Uber Loses Another Executive as Self-driving Program Head Quits
Despite having put in as much testing time as most of the major players, experts have remained skeptical of Uber’s autonomous driving program. This isn’t because it lacks the necessary technology or hardware, but because it lacks a stable corporate environment. There have been no shortage of ugly headlines surrounding the company this year, and it’s beginning to hemorrhage essential staff members. This week, Uber lost its vice president of global vehicle programs, Sherif Marakby, and sustained another blow to its self-driving aspirations and pride.
While the ride-haling service has declined to elaborate on the reasons for Marakby’s exit, he had only been with the company since last April. After twenty-five years with Ford, Uber poached him specifically for his expertise in autonomous development and electronic safety systems.
This loss follows the departure of Uber’s president, vice president of product and growth, senior director of engineering, its head of communications, head of AI labs, and numerous members of its self-driving programs — all within the last few months.
“Self-driving is one of the most interesting challenges I’ve worked on in my career, and I’m grateful to have contributed to what will soon be a safer future for everyone,” Marakby said in a statement announcing his departure.
Uber didn’t give any additional information, though it told Automotive News that Marakby’s choice had nothing to do with the company’s ongoing lawsuit with Waymo. Of course, it isn’t as if that’s the only issue the company is facing. In addition to investigations into the alleged sexual misconduct of its employees, Uber has also faced negative publicity for how its team has handled its autonomous testing, the implementation of a tool designed to subvert government investigations, software that covertly tracks when its drivers use the Lyft app, and CEO Travis Kalanick’s exceptionally poor behavior.
The lawsuit drama, which returns to the courtroom next month, just happens to be the biggest elephant in a room that’s already full of them — and the one everyone seems most ready to talk about.
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