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Uber powers ahead on autonomous vehicles

Image: Volvo for Uber
Uber plans to use Volvo XC90 cars that have been modified for autonomous driving. (Credit: Uber)

Uber says it’s acquiring Otto, a venture working on self-driving trucks, and starting up an autonomous-vehicle experiment with Volvo in Pittsburgh.

The moves by the ride-share trailblazer, announced on Thursday, came just days after Ford laid out its plan to put autonomous ride-share vehicles on the road by 2021. Such moves signal that ride-sharing and ride-hailing will loom as a major frontier for automotive autonomy.

In a blog post, Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick said that Otto’s co-founder, Anthony Levandowski, would lead the company’s self-driving efforts in the San Francisco Bay area as well as Pittsburgh. “If that sounds like a big deal — well, it is,” Kalanick said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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