I’m proud to welcome Raquel Urtasun to Uber. Raquel is an associate professor at the University of Toronto and one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of machine perception and artificial intelligence. Raquel’s work focuses on developing the software that allows self-driving cars to “see”: recognizing objects so they can navigate the world smoothly and safely.

Raquel will remain in Toronto to lead a new branch of our Advanced Technologies Group—our first outside the U.S. By setting up shop at the MaRS Discovery District, we hope to draw from the region’s impressive talent pool as we grow, helping the dozens of researchers we plan to hire stay connected to the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.

With support from the Ontario and federal governments, Toronto has emerged as an important hub of artificial intelligence research, which is critical to the future of transportation. That’s why we’re also making a significant multi-year financial commitment as a platinum sponsor of the Vector Institute, which Raquel helped to set up as a co-founder.

Raquel and her team will further strengthen our self-driving engineering efforts in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. And their work will complement the research underway at Uber AI Labs, led by Zoubin Ghahramani—a proud University of Toronto alum himself.

Self-driving technology promises to make our roads safer, our environment healthier and our cities more livable. While there’s still a lot of work to be done, we believe that the combination of our global ridesharing network with the cutting-edge software and hardware being built by our teams will make this vision a reality—and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s next.