Uber's self-driving operations inside the US have had a checkered start, but that hasn't stopped the company expanding its efforts beyond the border. It has today announced that it will set up a small research outpost in Toronto, Canada that will complement its ongoing work with autonomous vehicle technologies.
The research center will be a new branch of Uber's existing Advanced Technologies Group, which already has offices in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Uber kicked off self-driving trials in both locations last year, though its momentum suffered a blow when the California DMV banned the trial in that state in December. It has since gotten the necessary permits, but suspended another trial in Arizona following a high-impact crash.
The Canadian branch will be headed up by Raquel Urtasun, a computer scientist at the University of Toronto and, according to Uber, a leading researcher in the field of machine perception and artificial intelligence. Her research centers on software that enables autonomous cars to "see," detecting objects around them so as to avoid collisions.
"Self-driving technology promises to make our roads safer, our environment healthier and our cities more livable," writes Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a blog post. "While there's still a lot of work to be done, we believe that the combination of our global ridesharing network with the cutting-edge software and hardware being built by our teams will make this vision a reality – and we couldn't be more excited about what's next."