Ride-hailing service Uber has decided to invest $500 million into an ambitious global mapping project to wean itself off dependence on Google Maps and pave the way for driverless cars, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The San Francisco-based company is ramping up spending in new technologies such as mapping and driverless cars following new investments into the company earlier this year.
A representative for Uber could not immediately be reached for comment.
Uber reaches 2 billion rides
Uber hit 2 billion rides on June 18, CEO Travis Kalanick said in a Facebook post, six months after marking its first billion rides. The company, then, completed the same number of rides in six months as it did in the prior six years – due in part to its heavy spending to recruit drivers and passengers, which is made possible by more than $13 billion in funding from investors.
Kalanick said that 147 Uber rides started at the exact same second in 16 countries to tie for the two billionth trip. The largest portion of those rides – 54 – happened in China, an indication of the company’s growth in that country, where Kalanick has also said Uber is losing more than $1 billion a year as it competes for riders.
Uber is in 450 cities globally, up from 311 a year ago. Last month it raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, part of a funding round that valued the company at $62.5 billion.
Earlier this month, Uber secured a $1.15 billion leveraged loan, allowing the company to take advantage of historically low interest rates while keeping venture-capital backers happy by not further diluting their equity.