Uber & Google to go head-to-head on self-driving cars

Uber is embarking on a research and development push with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US that could pave the way for self-driving taxis.

The company confirmed the partnership with CMU in a blog post, where it said the collaboration will centre on R&D related to mapping, vehicle safety and autonomy technologies.

In the post, Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, said it chose to partner with Pittsbugh-based CMU because of its track record in the field of robotic technologies.

"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," said Holden.

"This collaboration and the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Centre represent an important investment in building for the long term of Uber."

The Dean of CMU's School of Computer Science, Andrew Moore, added: "We look forward to... working together on real-world applications, which offer very interesting new challenges at the intersections of technology, mobility and human interactions."

Despite the focus on autonomy technologies, the Uber post said the centre should help create new jobs, an assertion backed by City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

"This is yet another case where collaboration between the city and its universities is creating opportunities for job growth and community development."

The move will be seen by many as an attempt by Uber to encroach on Google's territory in the self-driving cars space.

However, a report on Bloomberg suggests Google is in the throes of developing its own taxi-hailing app to rival Uber, which is a curious move given the search giant is one of the firm's biggest investors.

The report claims David Drummond, who serves on the Uber board and is Google's chief legal officer, has notified the former about the company's plans.

And, with Uber relying on Google's mapping technology to power the applications its drivers use, the company is said to be "deeply concerned" by Drummond's report.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.