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Uber announces plans to open Canadian research hub for self-driving technology

Global ride-hailing service Uber has taken its very first steps to expand its self-driving research into foreign markets with the announcement that it plans to open a research facility in Toronto, Canada. This latest expansion is for Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, which is responsible for the majority of the firm's research on autonomous vehicles. Uber also disclosed that University of Toronto professor Raquel Urtasun has been tasked with the responsibility of leading the new research center.

Uber has already hired eight students from the University of Toronto - and the professor Urtasun intends to recruit dozens more in their attempts to develop self-driving technology, which is dominating the motor industry with the world's leading companies all carrying out their own R&D on self-driving technology.

Urtasun has described Toronto as the perfect location for Uber's new facility - claiming that the city has been a leader in AI for years. She told Tech Crunch: "Toronto has been a leader in AI over the years, really for the past two decades, and there is finally a realization that there is incredible talent, and this talent was mostly being exported to the U.S. In fact, the Canadian government just recently approved self-driving cars for testing on roads in the province of Ontario."

Silicon Valley has expressed nervousness over President Trump's stance on immigration - and many believe more and more organization like Uber - may look to places like Canada in order to set-up centers like the one in Toronto.

That uncertainty can potentially boost Canada's burgeoning tech scene - and immigration lawyers in Canada have reported an influx of interest from non-citizen tech workers in the US. In addition to this, a business called TrueNorth has been established to help move employees potentially affected by any H-1B visa changes over to Vancouver.

Uber has also used its fair share of H-1B's. A little over 500 of Uber's H-1B visa applications were certified in 2016, according to data from the Department of Labor.