Uber, pursuing self-driving tech in U.S., seeks 1 million drivers in India

Dec. 27, 2016

Uber is facing some rough roads as it tries to deploy its driverless vehicles in the U.S. TechCrunch reports that after facing regulatory difficulties in California, the company is redeploying its self-driving test vehicles to Arizona.

The company faces an additional challenge in India, where self-driving cars aren’t on the horizon. Writes Newley Purnell in The Wall Street Journal, “How do you train a million new Uber drivers in a country where most people have never driven a car, tapped on a smartphone or even used an online map?”

Purnell notes that Uber avoided a similar problem in China by selling its business to homegrown Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Nevertheless, he continues, “The $68 billion San Francisco startup has plenty of cash and cutting-edge technology to bring to its battle in India. Also, the country hasn’t thrown up the kind of regulatory hurdles that have hindered Uber’s growth in other regions.”

Uber already has 400,000 drives in India but wants to add another million over the next two years. To facilitate that effort, Purnell writes, the company is offering prospective drivers classes in everything from online banking to how to dress.

Purnell quotes Uber India President Amit Jain as saying, “We were spending over $1 billion a year in China, so it helps us to divert some of that investment and money to India.”

Uber’s main competition in the country is the Indian company Ola, founded in 2011 and reported to have more than 550,000 drivers.

Back on the self-driving front in the United States, Arizona governor Doug Ducey responds to news of Uber’s regulatory problems in California with a tweet: “Here in #AZ we WELCOME this kind of technology & innovation!”

Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch writes, “GM is also testing self-driving vehicles in Arizona, with a Scottsdale pilot launched earlier this year, and the state has also been working with Google’s self-driving car project, now its own company under Alphabet known as Waymo.”

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