Science & Engineering

Deal with Carnegie Mellon Pits Uber Against Google

A new advanced technology center in Pittsburgh will bind Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers to Uber in development of driverless vehicles and other projects. The company, which promotes a mobile app that connects people looking for a ride with potential drivers in the vicinity and handles the financial transaction, will be funding the creation of the "Uber Advanced Technologies Center" near the university campus in Pittsburgh.

The initiative pits Uber directly against one of its own investors, Google, which has long been experimenting with autonomous vehicles. Google itself has deep ties into the university. The company opened a Google Pittsburgh operation in 2005, hiring hundreds of alumni. The director of the Google engineering office, Andrew Moore, was originally plucked from the faculty of CMU. He left Google last year to rejoin the university as the head of the School of Computer Science. Google has also acquired several technologies spun off from university research, including ReCAPTCHA and Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition.

Uber has ties to about two dozen "uberversities" across the country, where it promotes the use of its car-sharing service and recruits students to become drivers. But this is the first time the company has locked in a partnership on the institutional research side.

The goal is bring Uber developers together with Carnegie Mellon faculty for research and development in the areas of autonomy technology, mapping and vehicle safety. Of special interest is the university's National Robotics Engineering Center, which runs a number of projects in the area of autonomous technologies.

As part of the agreement, the company will fund various faculty chairs and graduate fellowships.

"Uber is a rapidly growing company known for its innovative technology that is radically improving access to transportation for millions of global citizens," said Moore in a prepared statement. "CMU is renowned for innovations that transform lives. We look forward to partnering with Uber as they build out the Advanced Technologies Center and to working together on real-world applications, which offer very interesting new challenges at the intersections of technology, mobility and human interactions."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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