Report Claims Uber's Autonomous Car Program Was Going Through $20 Million per Month

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【Summary】In order to reach its lofty goals, Uber’s self-driving arm was burning through $20 million a month – all in the name of developing technology for autonomous vehicles.

Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 20, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Report Claims Uber's Autonomous Car Program Was Going Through $20 Million per Month

Despite all sorts of set backs, Uber is arguably the company to beat when it comes to autonomous vehicles. The ride-sharing company has some lofty goals and in order to meet them, it has been going through money at an alarming rate. According to a report by TechCrunch, Uber was spending $20 million a month. 

Spending Money To Reach Towering Goals

The outlet found court documents that were unsealed last week, which revealed just how much money the company was spending on developing autonomous technology for cars. The documents portrays that Uber was aiming to have driverless taxi services in 13 major cities by 2022. If that's not enough, the company was setting its sights on having a total of 75,000 self-driving cars on the road by that time, too. 

As TechCrunch claims, the documents were written last year during Uber's patent and trade secret theft lawsuit with Waymo, one of Uber's major rivals. The lawsuit between the two companies accused former Google engineer, Anthony Levandowski, of stealing trade secrets in regard to the company's LiDAR technology. 

The figure of $20 million a month dates back a few years to 2016 and, as the outlet claims, reveal just how badly Uber wants to reach its goal. Not only that, but it shows how serious Uber is in regard to being one of the first to have autonomous vehicles operating in the real world and how much money it's willing to throw at the situation to be number one. 

Possible Effect On An Upcoming IPO

As far as timing goes, the documents could affect its value, which isn't a good thing when it's trying to raise money for its initial public offering (IPO) later this year. With Uber set to file for a U.S. IPO this year, the company will follow Lyft, which became the first ride-hailing company to go public just this month.  

According to INC, Uber could be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 billion if it were to go public this year. If that valuation were to stick, the ride-hailing company would be worth more than Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles combined. It would also be eight times more than Lyft's $15 billion valuation. 

The documents, though, could drive Uber's valuation down, as TechCrunch believes they are a harsh reminder that the company isn't on track to reach its goals. Uber may be one of the leaders when it comes to autonomous testing and while it's still heading in a good direction, its goals from years ago are still its goals at the moment. 

Besides money, Uber has also more than doubled the amount of individuals working on hardware components and software for driverless vehicles. The report claims that in June 2017, Uber had 155 people working in its hardware department and 405 employees working on software. The outlet points toward a separate Uber filing from two months earlier that claims a total of 1,500 people working on the autonomous project. That's a drastic increase over an incredibly short period of time. 

Overall, the documents don't paint Uber in the best light. Individuals outside of the tech realm could see a company that's spending an insane amount of money on reaching a goal that's still off on the horizon. The situation for filing for an IPO looks even more precarious when you consider that Uber just recently resumed testing after a deadly accident in Arizona last March. 

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