Uber scientist says some time before self-driving cars dominate the road

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc believes it will take a long time for self-driving cars to be used at scale but the technology will save lives, the chief scientist at its self-driving car unit said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Uber’s logo is displayed on a mobile phone in London, Britain, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

Raquel Urtasun, who is chief scientist at Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) and heads the group’s unit in Toronto, spoke at a Reuters Newsmaker www.reuters.com/newsmakers event in New York.

The progress of Uber’s self-driving car unit is in the spotlight as the company prepares to go public later this year. The unit is a significant contributor to Uber’s losses, which in 2018 were $1.8 billion before taxes, depreciation and other expenses.

However, some consider Uber’s ability to successful navigate the transition to autonomous vehicles as crucial to the company’s long-term prospects.

Uber opened ATG in Toronto in 2017 and named Urtasun, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto, as head of the Toronto organization.

Uber said last year it would invest millions of dollars in Toronto to expand its self-driving car operations. The company had been seen as a