- Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is vying to repair the Google relationship and add Waymo to Uber’s network.
- The lawsuit that Google’s Waymo filed against Uber, in which it accused the ride-hailing company of stealing trade secrets, was only settled recently.
- Khosrowshahi says Uber has no plans to abandon self-driving vehicles, and said Uber’s autonomous cars will return to the streets sometime this summer.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO for nine months, is attempting to rebuild some of the burned bridges that former CEO Travis Kalanick left for him.
Khosrowshahi told the audience at the Code technology conference on Wednesday near Los Angeles, that he has entered into talks with Google’s Waymo about joining Uber’s network.
Not only were Uber and Waymo rivals in the nascent self-driving car category, but the relationship seemed irreparable after Waymo alleged in a lawsuit that the then Kalanick-led Uber stole some of its tech secrets. The case was resolved earlier this year.
“I had a long relationship with Google,” Khosrowshahi said. “They’re serious about autonomy. It’s up to them.”
Kara Swisher, the Recode cofounder and longtime Silicon Valley journalist, asked how Khosrowshahi brought Google to the negotiating table. Khosrowshahi said: “Economics.”
The issue might come down to money but it’s hard to see how Google would have ever considered such a proposition while Kalanick was still Uber’s chief executive. When Kalanick was at the helm, Uber was dogged by numerous controversies. Khosrowshahi is now attempting to clean up the mess.
Khosrowshahi also revealed that he hopes to make Uber’s technology available to other companies, adding that Uber plans to branch out into other forms of transportation beyond cars. Among them: bikes, scooters, and a platform that helps users find rides on buses and city trains.
“You wanted to build your own BART?” Swisher asked jokingly, referring to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.
But what about autonomous cars? He made it clear that the fatal accident in Arizona in March, involving one of Uber’s driverless cars, which Khosrowshahi called a terrible tragedy, has not sidetracked the company’s ambitions in that sector.
“We got to get back on the road,” Khosrowshahi told the audience, “but we must do it in the safest manner possible.”
He said Uber’s autonomous cars will hit the streets again sometime over the summer.
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