More Uber news is coming your way. The company is now using autonomous trucks to do work for customers. Yes, you heard us correctly. Autonomous trucks.
Uber Freight is Uber’s cargo shipping on-demand application. The application is using both human drivers and self-driving trucks to transport and ship products to customers. It operates similar to Uber’s rideshare application for consumers, but in Uber Freight, drivers are matched with companies that need cargo moved.
Right now, the service is being implemented in Arizona, and has been tested in small quantities since November of 2017. This is the first Uber is formally announcing the service. While it seems scary, these self-driving trucks will still have a human present inside the vehicle while it is operating.
The service works in an interesting way. First, Uber loads freight into a standard human-driven truck that arrives at a transfer hub. Then, the cargo is loaded to an autonomous long-haul freight transport. The self-driving trucks do the driving for the majority of the long trips because they are easily able to drive on highways. Finally, at the end of the journey, the cargo is loaded to a human driven vehicle to take to its final destination.
An insider at Uber stated the reason for the self-driving trucks only being used for part of the journey is because they have not yet perfected the technology to navigate city streets.
This latest rideshare news marks a turning point for Uber’s move into commercialization of self-driving vehicles, specifically in trucks. Uber wants to position itself as a leader in this market, which seems to be a common theme lately! It will be interesting to see how Uber's self-proclaimed domination turns out for them.