( Reuters) — Uber is spending millions of dollars in Toronto to open an engineering hub and expand its self-driving car operations, the strongest indication yet that the company is not retreating from autonomous vehicle development despite recent setbacks. Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said on Thursday that Uber will invest more than $150 million over five years to bolster the ride-hailing companys engineering capabilities, with a new office opening in early 2019, and expand its work in artificial intelligence. The San Francisco-based company expects to hire hundreds of new employees, boosting its overall headcount in Toronto to more than 500. The investment will allow Uber the opportunity to expand its work on self-driving technology, an area where the company has lagged competitors. Uber opened a self-driving car research center in Toronto last year, and named University of Toronto associate professor Raquel Urtasun as head of the organization. However, Ubers self-driving car business stalled after one of its autonomous SUVs killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March. Uber quickly removed its robot cars from the road, laid off hundreds of test drivers and shuttered operations in Arizona, its autonomous testing hub. Since the Tempe crash, Khosrowshahi, who took over Uber a year ago, has explored options that include more partnerships with companies developing autonomous cars and a potential sale of the self-driving business, sources have told Reuters. The investment in Toronto is a strong signal that Uber will continue to build its own self-driving technology, at least in the near term. It also follows a $500 million investment from Toyota to jointly work on developing self-driving cars, providing the Uber business a badly needed boost. However, the company still faces battles with regulators and local officials who have raised concerns over the safety of Ubers program. Six months after the fatal crash, Uber has not resumed testing its cars on public roads, although Khosrowshahi said he expects the company will by the end of the year after undergoing a safety overhaul. The self-driving unit is a significant contributor to Ubers losses, which in the second quarter were $891 million. Uber said it will not raise additional financing for the Canada investment. The separate engineering office set to open early next year is Ubers eighth such office outside of the United States, and will be used for building technology infrastructure for Ubers products, such as ride-hailing and food delivery.
Months after an Uber self -driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, the ride-hailing giant has announced its adding a new engineering hub in Toronto and expanding its autonomous research team as it refocuses its self-driving car efforts. In his first visit to the Canadian tech hub since becoming CEO of Uber last year, Dara Khosrowshahi announced plans to invest $150 million in Toronto over the next five years. Uber will bring on 300 new employees, bringing the companys total headcount in Toronto to 500. The new engineering hub is expected to open early next year. Weve reached out to Uber for comment. At Uber, we recognize Canadas commitment to innovation and the vibrancy of Torontos tech ecosystem, Khosrowshahi said in a statement provided to the Toronto Star. We want to support the innovation coming out of this great, diverse region. Toronto is a place where we as a company innovate, and innovation is really what Uber is all about. Our CEO @dkhos is in Canada today to announce the opening of @ubers newest engineering hub, and the expansion of the @UberATG self-driving R&D centre in Toronto. Uber opened the Toronto Advanced Technologies Group office last May. Its led by local AI researcher Raquel Urtasun, a University of Toronto professor and the Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision. The company initially suspended all efforts to get self-driving cars on the road following the fatal crash and opted not to renew its self-driving car permit in the state of California. Its vehicles have returned to public roads, but in manual mode. Uber has been testing self-driving cars in Toronto since last year and has said the company remains very committed to beefing up its AV research in the region. Uber self-driving cars back on public roads, but in manual mode