Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was in Toronto today, where he announced that the company plans to invest more than $200 million over the next five years to expand the autonomous vehicle research lab that it already has here in the city.
The Toronto outpost of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) – which is its only international outpost – is led by renowned University of Toronto professor, Raquel Urtasun. She is also the cofounder of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and splits her time between Uber and UofT.
With this investment, Uber also expects to open its first engineering facility in Canada and grow its local headcount to 500, up from the 200 or so it has today. Some of these hires will be local. Some will be international. And some will be transplants from Uber’s other offices.
Also notable about the announcement is that Khosrowshahi mentioned that he thinks fully autonomous vehicles roaming the streets of our cities is a good 10 years away. But I wonder if that isn’t political PR speak intended not to spook its drivers. So are we closer to the mid-2020′s?
Either way, as a proud Torontonian and UofT alumnus, I was happy to see this announcement. I think it’s far more exciting than the Apple event that took place earlier this week.