Uber Sets Up Another Hub for Self-Driving Car Research

Josh WolfordIT Management

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Uber is setting up another hub for self-driving car research.

This one's at the University of Arizona. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Uber, and the college announced the initiative on Tuesday.

"Through the statement of intent that we signed today, Uber and the UA have agreed to work together on educational, workforce development, and research efforts in optics, engineering, and education for the benefit of both parties and for that of Southern Arizona. This partnership builds on the UA’s history of excellence in optical sciences and will fund important research here at the UA in the coming years. Details of the agreement are yet to be finalized but common areas of interest and expertise include mapping and autonomous or 'self-driving' technology," reads an email sent to University of Arizona staff.

Uber will also donate $25,000 to the College of Optical Sciences.

“This is a great day for Uber, for the UA and for the future of innovation in Arizona,” said Governor Ducey in a statement. “Our administration has been keenly focused on helping 21st-century companies like Uber grow their footprint and succeed in our state, and today’s announcement is the latest signal that it’s working. All Arizonans stand to benefit from embracing new technologies – especially when it means new jobs, new economic development, new research opportunities and increased public safety and transportation options for our state. That’s what this partnership is about, and I thank Uber and the University of Arizona for their efforts and commitment to making it happen.”

The partnership was buffeted by an Executive Order, signed by Ducey, which supports the "testing and operation of self-driving vehicles" in the state.

“It’s clear that Arizona welcomes innovation, and we applaud Governor Ducey and the University of Arizona for their eagerness to embrace new technology,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of advanced technologies for Uber. “Over the last twenty years, technology has helped democratize access to so many services – working in partnership with forward-thinking universities and elected officials across the United States. We’re still in the early days of what’s possible – and I look forward to working with Arizona to make the next step of that journey a reality.”

Earlier this year, Uber announced a “strategic partnership” with Carnegie Mellon University that saw the creation of said “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” near the school’s campus. Then, Uber stole Google engineering VP Brian McClendon to head the division. McClendon worked for over a decade as Google’s head of Maps, Google Earth, and Street View.

Uber says the goal of that hub is “mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.”

As Google continues to expand its own tests of autonomous driving tech, it's clear that Uber has its own aspirations.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf