Udacity Planning Spin-Off Company to Build Driverless Taxis

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【Summary】Udacity, a Silicon Valley online education startup, has set its sights on taking on Uber by creating a spin-off company that will develop autonomous taxis.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 17, 2017 12:15 PM PT
Udacity Planning Spin-Off Company to Build Driverless Taxis

With the inception of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft, regular taxi companies have faced an uphill battle when it comes to staying afloat. Prices, availability, and ease of use are a few reasons why Lyft and Uber have been able to dominate in the ride-sharing segment. 

Other companies, even ones that have no experience in the automotive segment, have noticed just how popular ride-sharing companies have become and are looking to get into the market. Udacity, a Silicon Valley online education startup, will create a spin-off company that will focus on developing driverless taxis, reports Automotive News

Autonomy First, Ride-Sharing Second

While the news might come off as a little confusing, as Udacity currently makes higher education more accessible and affordable, but has no experience in the automotive industry. That, though, isn't exactly true. 

One of Udcaity's co-founders, Sebastian Thrun, as Automotive News points out, was also one of the co-founders for the Google X research lab, which led to the development of Google's autonomous vehicle. So Udacity, while not exactly in its field of expertise, does have an individual that has the know-how behind how to make a self-driving vehicle. 

Automotive News reports that Udacity's new company will be named Voyage Auto and, instead of building its own driverless vehicle, would focus on retrofitting existing cars. "I'm starting a new thing with great friends call Voyage Auto, wrote CEO Oliver Cameron on his LinkedIn page, reports the outlet. "We're deploying autonomous taxis to real users very, very soon." 

Cameron, as Automotive News claims, is a former vice president of engineering and product at Udacity. He continued on his LinkedIn page to state, "Voyage is building an extremely cheap and safe autonomous taxi service." 

While being a spin-off from Udacity, Voyage will operate independently from the education-focused company and will hold an undisclosed stake in it, as well reports Automotive News

Udacity Has The Money, People, And Skill

Currently, Udacity is worth more than $1 billion, as Automotive News reports, and is betting on the fact that its vocational courses for professionals and extensive work for large companies like Google will help Voyage stand out in the ride-sharing segment. The company does offer an education program for developers interested in autonomous vehicles. According to Udacity, the program has been followed by approximately 6,600 students worldwide. 

Automotive News reports that BMW, Delphi, Mercedes-Benz, and Nvidia have all hired students from Udacity's driverless vehicle program. Clearly, Udacity not only knows how to teach developers to make the next-generation of automobiles, but also what to teach them, as well. 

Udacity isn't the only company to enter the ride-sharing segment recently, as startups Juno, Gett, and Via announced its plans to enter the market last year. All companies are betting on producing self-driving taxis instead of solidifying their role as a ride-sharing company first. With both Uber and Lyft working on autonomous taxis, other startups, including Udacity, will have an uphill battle to enter the segment and rise to the top. 

via: Automotive News

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