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Uber self-driving cars' could see US$1b investment

San Francisco

A GROUP of investors including SoftBank Group is in talks to invest US$1 billion or more into Uber's self-driving car unit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Word of a potential infusion of cash valuing the Uber autonomous vehicle division at from US$5 billion to US$10 billion comes as the ride-hailing startup steers toward a hotly-anticipated stock market debut.

Under terms being discussed, SoftBank's Vision Fund and other investors, including a carmaker, would take a minority stake in Uber's self-driving vehicle unit, according to the Journal. Led by Japan's Masayoshi Son, the Vision Fund is heavily invested by Saudi Arabia.

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The Journal described the "late-stage" talks as fluid, with the possibility a deal might not be reached.

Uber has been in a race with Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.

Waymo said this month that it would sell a key innovation to companies that don't compete with its autonomous cars.

The California-based unit of Google parent Alphabet will offer its lidar sensors, which measure distance with pulses of laser light, to companies in robotics, security, agricultural technology and other sectors. The move could offer a new revenue stream for Waymo as it invests in bringing "robo taxis" to market. AFP