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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says he’s trying to convince Alphabet to put Waymo self-driving cars on the company’s network

“It’s up to them whether they want to do it or not.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Asa Mathat

Months after Uber and Alphabet settled their messy legal battle over self-driving trade secrets, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the companies are discussing working together on self-driving.

“[The relationship is] getting better,” Khosrowshahi said at the Code Conference at Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “You build relationships slowly but surely. I have a long relationship with Google and we have a trust level. We’re having discussions with Waymo. If something happens, great.”

“They’re an incredible technology provider, they’re serious about autonomous,” he continued. “To the extent that that technology could show up on the [Uber] network, I think [it] could be a good thing. It’s up to them whether they want to do it or not.”

Khosrowshahi said plugging Waymo’s self-driving cars on the Uber network makes financial sense because it would increase utilization of the vehicles.

“Autonomous will be shared,” he said. “That will be fundamental to the technology. If it’s shared, you want to have the highest utilization rates possible. Owning or being a part of the largest rideshare network on a global basis will enable you to get the highest utilization out of your autonomous cars.”

Khosrowshahi’s tone on self-driving is markedly different from the extreme stance his predecessor, Travis Kalanick, took. To Kalanick, self-driving was an existential threat to Uber and drivers were the biggest obstacle to making the business work. Khosrowshahi said, as he has said previously, that for a long time the network will be a hybrid model where there will be drivers alongside self-driving cars on the platform.

“It’s existential if we don’t have access to the technology,” he said.

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