The highly troubled Uber Technologies Inc. is seeking a strategic partnership with a major automaker; Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIY); the parent of Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, for its self-driving car effort.
Uber was in talks with Daimler in an attempt to get the world’s oldest automotive company to make its impressive autonomous vehicle technology available for its ride sharing network, Bloomberg Technology reported on January 31, 2017. The companies were still negotiating the terms of the agreement back then.
Daimler is the world’s oldest automaker having been in the business since 1887. It is one of the leaders in autonomous vehicle technology. Back in 2015, Daimler tested demonstrated a self-driving Freightliner at Hoover Dam. That was a year before Uber subsidiary Otto used a self-driving Volvo semi-tractor to deliver a load of beer in Colorado.
Will Google Lawsuit Scuttle Uber-Daimler Alliance
One reason why Uber is so interested in joining up with Daimler is to get access to that technology. The company might be blocked from access to Otto’s technology by a lawsuit filed by Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG). The company formerly known as Google is alleging that Otto founder Anthony Levandowski stole much of the technology used in Uber’s product from its’ subsidiary Waymo.
Obviously it remains to be seen if Daimler is really willing to share trade secrets with a company accused of intellectual property theft. The Waymo allegations might put a damper on such an alliance.
Of course cynical Uber backers might say that Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is simply trying to scuttle a Daimler/Uber alliance with its deal. Alphabet has its own self-driving vehicle development alliance in place with another European auto giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU). It might fear competition with Daimler or simply want to force Daimler into alliance.
Either way it looks as if the stakes in the autonomous vehicle development race are higher than we think. Some of the world’s biggest and richest companies are racing to put cars that drive themselves on our streets.