It looks like Uber is operating back within city limits, but it's not for the reason you might think.
Instead of giving out rides, Uber is actually mapping the streets of Austin using cars from their Advanced Technologies Center, according to Uber Technologies, Inc.
The company confirmed the hybrid Ford Fusion vehicles seen around Austin are not only capable of collecting mapping data, but they also could be used to test out a self-driving feature.
Although Uber said they're not testing the self-driving feature in Austin yet, they are using the data gathered from the mapping tests for self-driving research.
Apparently, Austin isn't the only city Uber is using for research. Pittsburgh residents have seen the "high tech looking vehicles" around their city for the past several months due to a new partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.
After leaving Austin in May 2016 due to the Proposition 1 ruling, Uber has been operating outside the city limits as a ride-sharing service in areas like Pflugerville and Round Rock while their food delivery service, Uber eats, never left the city.
It's not known whether this mapping experiment is a sign that Uber may be returning to Austin. But, if they do return, they'll have to comply with the City of Austin's requirement that all drivers receive fingerprint-based criminal background checks.
Unless, they come back with self-driving vehicles. That would honestly, open up another can of worms.