2020 has taken a toll on just about everything, and businesses have had to adapt to survive. That includes even the edgy newer ones like Uber and other ride-hailing companies. In fact, Uber already was working for future success by thinking about the possibility of self-driving vehicles and how that could hurt or help the company. Google, under parent company Alphabet, a major force in the world, has been a leader in self-driving technology through its spinoff Waymo. But Uber has been working on its own products.
But lack of travel in 2020 has been a serious detriment to Uber, and it has had to sell its self-driving Advanced Technologies Group to rival Aurora, transferring employees and technology. However, Uber will have a major investment in Aurora worth 26% of the company after putting in $400 million, and its CEO will join the Aurora board. That means Uber still will be at the forefront of the emerging technology.
Aurora involves former Google, Tesla and Uber executives and has partnerships with Amazon, Hyundai and Kia, among others. So it certainly is a big player.
Pinal County has become a significant factor in electric vehicles with the Lucid Motors plant in Casa Grande going into production and plans in Coolidge for Nikola Motors, although the latter recently received a setback with a General Motors partnership downgraded. Electric, and self-driving, vehicles are looming big on the horizon.
Self-driving vehicles offer efficiency and most likely safety in a more congested world. They also potentially mean a loss of millions of good jobs. However, the economy is always evolving, and companies and workers evolve with it. Electric vehicles in Pinal County are part of that change.
Uber’s recent move seems necessary during the pandemic of 2020, but it also is part of progress during a time of rapid change.