Uber’s COO unveils “Uber for Taiwan” plan

Barney Harford said Uber has been partnering with the Taiwanese government and private enterprises to launch a series of projects in Taiwan

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Uber’s Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford unveils the company’s “Uber for Taiwan” plan on August 28

Uber’s Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford unveils the company’s “Uber for Taiwan” plan on August 28 (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At a forum held Tuesday in Taipei, Uber’s Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford unveiled the company’s “Uber for Taiwan” plan, which includes working with the Taiwanese government on providing an integrated platform for public transportation as well as helping nurture Taiwan’s talent for self-driving technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

The “Smart Cities – The Future of Transportation” forum was opened on Tuesday morning by Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Brent Christensen, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), and Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生), deputy minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Uber’s COO was invited to deliver a keynote speech on the ride-sharing company’s upcoming projects in Taiwan. 

“Uber is committed to Taiwan. Today we are doubling our commitment,” said Harford. He emphasized that Uber has been working with the Taiwanese government and private enterprises to launch a series of projects in Taiwan. 

“We are excited about the direction the government is taking to foster an open and innovative startup environment in Taiwan,” said Harford, adding, “We also recognize the importance of running a business that complies with local regulations, and we have modified our operations to ensure we are fully compliant.”

Harford said Uber is launching Uber Movement in Taipei, making it the 20th city in the world to operate the website from which urban planners, the city government, and even civil communities can access Uber data about travel conditions to make more informed decisions. 

Uber is also initiating the “Mobility as Service” project in partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, said Harford.

The project aims to provide an integrated platform for different transportation modes. It also “gives small taxi companies that do not have the technology to build an app the opportunity to access new economic opportunities under the UberTaxi structure, according to Harford. 

In terms of fostering Taiwan’s talent, Harford announced the inclusion of Taiwan in Uber Exchange and Uber AI Labs programs, which will bring the world’s renowned technology and AI experts to Taiwan to share knowledge as well as give Taiwan’s AI researchers an opportunity to go to San Francisco, where Uber and many tech giants are headquartered, for one year and work with Uber. 

“We will support a knowledge exchange to bolster the growth of technology talent through Uber Exchange, and Uber AI Labs, with a focus on self-driving vehicles and AI.”

While Uber is developing e-VTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) technologies, Taiwan’s hardware manufacturing companies have become a key partner for the company. Harford said Uber is now partnering with E-One Moli energy, a lithium-ion batteries company in Taiwan, to power its flying car, Uber Elevate.

“As Uber innovates, we seek the best partners in the world. Taiwan’s hardware manufacturing and R&D ability stands out among many markets.” said Harford. The COO added that Uber looks forward to more partnerships with Taiwan’s tech-leading companies.