Uber Announces New Self-Driving Car Project at University of Arizona

By: | September 5th, 2015


Uber is partnering with the University of Arizona on a new self-driving car project that will focus mostly on optics systems, specifically mapping technology.

An email sent to the university’s employees detailed the autonomous car initiative that will result in a number of Uber’s test vehicles taking up permanent residence in Arizona.

There is still a lot we don’t know, but Uber will reportedly donate $25,000 to the university’s College of Optical Sciences.

Here is the full email regarding the new self-driving project:

I am very pleased to announce that this morning, I had the honor of welcoming Governor Doug Ducey, Representative Martha McSally, and Brian McClendon, Vice President of Advanced Technologies for Uber Technologies Inc., to the UA main campus. We held a press conference to announce an exciting new partnership between Uber and the University of Arizona.

Through the statement of intent that we signed today, Uber and the UA have agreed to work together on educational, workforce development, and research efforts in optics, engineering, and education for the benefit of both parties and for that of Southern Arizona. This partnership builds on the UA’s history of excellence in optical sciences and will fund important research here at the UA in the coming years. Details of the agreement are yet to be finalized but common areas of interest and expertise include mapping and autonomous or “self-driving” technology.

Uber will also partner with the UA on student engagement and a scholarship program in the College of Optical Sciences that will support our efforts in the 100% Engagement initiative as well as those in expanding accessibility to affordable higher education. This is a very exciting new partnership, and I am so very glad that the UA’s global research leadership and commitment to innovation allows us to join in a collaborative effort that will have great benefit for this state. One of the exciting facets of public-private partnerships such as this one with Uber is to see University research engaged at the forefront of commercial and technological innovation. I am impressed with Uber’s vision and commitment to support discovery that will drive Arizona’s innovation and knowledge economy. I am grateful for Governor Ducey’s support for this partnership and for his leadership in helping to facilitate it. I look forward to the great things the partnership will do for our state and its people.

Marshall Smith

Technology, engineering, and design enthusiast.

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