Uber is tapping into the talent at Carnegie Mellon University to create a new robotics research center in Pittsburgh that will focus on “mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.”
TechCrunch first reported the news on Monday, and Uber confirmed the “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” shortly thereafter in a blog post. Uber, which has raised more than $4 billion in equity and debt, said it will pay to hire faculty chairs and graduate fellowships for the center.
“As a global leader in urban transportation, we have the unique opportunity to invest in leading edge technologies to enable the safe and efficient movement of people and things at giant scale,” Jeff Holden, Uber Chief Product Officer, said in a statement. “This collaboration and the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Center represent an important investment in building for the long term of Uber.”
The center’s creation isn’t too surprising given how Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said last year that he would “love to have driverless cars at Uber.”
Just as Uber announced its new research center, Bloomberg’s Brad Stone reported on Monday that Google, which invested $258 million in Uber a year-and-a-half ago via Google Ventures, is building its own ride-hailing service that would directly compete with Uber. Google employees are reportedly testing an in-house ride-sharing app, and given the company’s development of driverless cars that could one day shuttle passengers around town, an Uber-like app starts to make a lot of sense.
However, The Wall Street Journal came out with a report late Monday that downplayed a potential rivalry between the companies, noting how it “has been blown out of proportion.”