Uber Wanted to Partner Tesla for Autonomous Driving, Musk Said "No"

It's hard to keep track of who is working with whom in this fast-changing industry that seems to have incorporated parts of the tech business as well as others (such as ride-sharing companies).
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Photo: Tesla Motors, modified
Only yesterday, BMW announced a partnership with Delphi for the development of autonomous driving systems, joining its existing deals with Intel and Mobileye. Only Intel and Mobileye were already working with Delphi on another projects of their own. Oh, and did we mention Mobileye is owned by Intel? You see? It's like a South American soap opera where it's almost impossible to keep track of all the connections between the characters.

Some characters, though, have a greater importance than others, and if Tesla and Uber were two join hands in the quest for self-driving cars, that surely wouldn't have gone unnoticed. Two of the most resounding names in their respective area of influence coming together would have been the headline of the month ("of the year" would be pushing it).

According to an excerpt from a book called "Wild Ride" written by Adam Lashinsky (of "Fortune" magazine), we very nearly had that last year. The fragment, as pointed out by Bloomberg, quotes a conversation between Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, and Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, as recalled by the former.

I said, ‘Look man, we should partner.’ Elon spent the rest of the call convincing me that it’s too far out, and it’s not realistic, that I should just stick to what we do best and be focused, or I’m going to f--- it all up. That’s when I knew Tesla was competing.”

Indeed, hearing Musk say something is too far out (particularly something so not far out) is a clear indication that the man is lying. After all, it's the same guy that's talking about traveling at 1,000 mph and going to Mars. And sure enough, only a few days later, Musk published the Tesla Master Plan part Deux, in which he refers to the Tesla Network.

The Bloomberg piece notes that, according to "a person close to Musk," the Tesla CEO admitted to declining the partnership but insists he never tried to convince Kalanick from venturing into the autonomous driving business.

Uber is now working with Volvo and Mercedes-Benz on developing the self-driving technology it so desperately needs to stay relevant, assuming its adoption is indeed imminent at some point in the future. However, it might be up for a bumpy ride considering the lawsuit filed by Google claiming Uber's program took advantage of some stolen trade secrets.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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