Ride-sharing company Uber has announced that they will be investing $150 million in driverless car research. File photo: Pixabay
INTERNATIONAL - Uber Technologies said it will spend more than $150 million (R2.2 billion) in Toronto to support driverless car research.

The five-year investment includes opening an engineering hub in Canada’s biggest city in early 2019 and an expansion of its Advanced Technologies Group, the unit that’s developing much of the company’s autonomous vehicle technology. 

Last year, Uber began building an artificial intelligence team in Toronto. Including ride-sharing and food delivery businesses, Uber said it will have more than 500 employees in the city in coming years.

The investment, presented by Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, is another vote of confidence in Toronto’s tech scene, which created more jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, combined last year.

Toronto has made a name for itself in AI. The University of Toronto is a leader in the field and a magnet for companies including Google, which invested in a prominent AI lab in the city called the Vector Institute.

“We recognize Canada’s commitment to innovation and the vibrancy of Toronto’s tech ecosystem,” Khosrowshahi said. “We want to support the innovation coming out of this great, diverse region.”

Uber’s ATG centre in Toronto is the company’s first self-driving vehicle office outside the US and the eighth engineering centre outside the US.