Uber, Carnegie Mellon Uni to develop autonomous vehicles

Uber and Carnegie Mellon University have signed a partnership to develop vehicle safety and autonomy technology at the soon-to-be-launched Uber Advanced Technologies Center.

Uber and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have signed a strategic partnership to launch the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to focus on technology developments to improve customer safety.

The company hinted that as part the centre, researchers will seek to develop driverless cars, as well as technology around vehicle safety.

"The partnership will provide a forum for Uber technology leaders to work closely with CMU faculty, staff, and students -- both on campus and at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) -- to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology," Uber said in a blog post.

Jeff Holden, Uber chief product officer, added that the partnership will be an opportunity for the company to invest in projects that will "enable the safe and efficient movement of people and things at giant scale".

Uber's focus on safety follows a string of incidents that have resulted in legal action against the company in South Korea, India, Europe, Australia, China, and the United States. In New Dehli, Uber was forced to suspend operations after one of its drivers was accused of allegedly raping a passenger.

Two weeks following the New Dehli incident, a Boston-based Uber driver was charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a passenger.

Uber is also likely to soon face new competition, and by one of its biggest investors, too.

Google is preparing to launch its own ride-sharing service and is already testing its own version of a ride-sharing app internally, Bloomberg reported.

Google's venture capital arm, Google Ventures, invested $258 million in Uber in 2013, and again in another funding round last year.

Bloomberg added that the ride-sharing service will most likely be in conjunction with its driverless car project. Google's self-driving cars are already on the roads of Nevada, and will soon be seen in the UK.

Google, however, later doused these reports by tweeting in response, "We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."