Is Uber pulling the plug on Self-Driving Cars?

It appears that Uber Technologies Inc. is pulling out of the self-driving car business. The unicorn has apparently laid off the safety drivers who monitored autonomous vehicles on the road.

Uber laid off around 100 autonomous vehicle operators in Pittsburgh on July 11, Quartz reported. The position of autonomous vehicle operator is being eliminated entirely at Uber.

Nevertheless, Uber will hire 55 mission specialists to oversee self-driving vehicle tests. The mission specialists are supposedly highly trained drivers with more technical knowledge.

Is Uber’s Self-Driving Vehicle Program for Sale?

An obvious role for the mission specialists will be to evaluate Uber’s autonomous vehicle technology. That indicates CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is looking for a buyer for the self-driving car program.

Likely buyers for Uber’s autonomous vehicle technology include automakers; such as Ford (NYSE: F), Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU), Toyota (NYSE: TM), Tata Motors (NYSE: TTM), and Volkswagen (OTC: VLKAY). Technology companies like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and NVIDA (NASDAQ: NVDA) will undoubtedly be interested in Uber’s autonomous car data.

A sale of the autonomous car technology is likely because Uber shut down its self-driving vehicle test in Tempe, Arizona. That test ended after one vehicle struck and killed a homeless woman.

Is Uber Pulling out of the Middle East?

The autonomous vehicle program is not the only thing that’s for sale at Uber. The company’s Middle East and North Africa business is on the block.

Uber and its competitor Careem are planning to merge their ridesharing operations in the region, Fortune reported. That sounds as if Careem is planning to buy Uber’s assets in the Middle East.

Details of the deal are unknown but Uber is looking for an exit from the Middle East. Uber operates in around 70 cities and 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomberg estimated the value of that business at $1.5 billion.

An Uber IPO might be in the works

Khosrowshahi hopes to get around $500 million for the Middle East and North Africa assets. Bloomberg speculates that Khosrowshahi is disposing of questionable assets in order to make Uber more value as an initial public offering (IPO).

It sounds as if Khosrowshahi is trying to reposition Uber as a passenger transportation company. To that end he shut down the UberRUSH delivery service in June.

Is UberEATS for sale?

That means UberEATS might be the next business sold. Likely buyers for UberEATS include Kroger (NYSE: KR), Ocado (LON: OCDO), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Instacart, and GrubHub (NYSE: GRUB).

Finding a buyer for UberEATS will be easy because it is the most profitable part of Uber. EATER reported that UberEats, a meal delivery service was s profitable in 27 of the 108 cities where it operated in July 2017. A likely plan would be to the sell profitable UberEATS operations and shut down the rest.

Each autonomous vehicle has two Uber exployees in the front seat; one is ready to grab the wheel and apply a foot to the brake pedal, the other in the passenger seat, has a computer screen showing what the car’s rooftop laser-bouncing radar is seeing.

The next item on the chopping block will be Uber’s flying taxi experiment. Khosrowshahi is likely to sell that technology to an aerospace company like Boeing (NYSE: BA).

It looks as if Uber’s future will be as just a ridesharing service. That will make Uber far more profitable, and far less interesting. Such moves might make Uber stock a value investment when it finally goes on sale.

 

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