Executive Who Sold Self-Driving Truck Start-Up to Uber Departs


Lior Ron, who founded Otto with Anthony Levandowski, was in charge of Uber Freight, a truck shipment booking service.

Andreas Gebert/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the founders of Otto, a self-driving truck company founded by former Google employees and acquired by Uber, has left the ride-hailing service.

Lior Ron — who along with Anthony Levandowski sold Otto to Uber in 2016, six months after leaving Google — was in charge of Uber Freight, a truck shipment booking service. Most of Uber Freight’s business does not involve the company’s autonomous trucks.

The departure followed a fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Ariz. The police said the car, driving in autonomous mode, had failed to slow down before it struck and killed a woman who was walking her bicycle across a street.

Uber has stopped testing of its autonomous vehicles in Arizona, California, Pittsburgh and Toronto while investigators look into the accident. A week after Uber halted testing, Arizona’s governor ordered the company’s self-driving cars off state roads. Uber also pulled an application to renew its permit for testing autonomous vehicles in California.

CNBC reported Mr. Ron’s departure earlier on Wednesday.

An Uber spokesman, Matt Kallman, said the departure was unrelated to the crash in Tempe, but he would not elaborate on why Mr. Ron had left or the timing of his exit.

Uber executives have said self-driving car technology is a key to the company’s future. But the effort had become a headache long before the crash in Arizona.

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