Uber’s self-driving trucks have been shipping cargo and delivering goods across Arizona since November. This move brings great opportunities and jobs for the long-haul truckers, the U.S. ride-hailing firm said on Tuesday, laying out plans for autonomous vehicles to work with truck drivers to move freight around the country.
“Uber Freight,” a shipping-on-demand app, is the application through which Uber’s trucks are being operated. In a YouTube clip released Tuesday, Uber has announced that it would integrate manual trucking with self-driving trucks by deploying the former for short rides and the latter for longer distances. Self-driving trucks will also require the “hands-on work that only truckers can do,” the video added.
In Uber's recent video, a trucker meets the self-driving truck at the Arizona state border, which then takes the load across the state before handing it off to another conventional trucker for the short-haul trip. During the autonomous trip, an Uber employee rides in the driver seat of the autonomous truck to monitor, but not to drive.
In October 2016, Uber demonstrated the first real-world commercial use for self-driving trucks, announcing it had transported Budweiser beer cans over 120 highway miles. Uber’s involvement in trucking stems largely from its 2016 acquisition of Otto, the self-driving vehicle firm that was at the center of a high-profile legal battle between Uber and Alphabet Inc’s autonomous driving unit Waymo. Uber is competing in the self-driving vehicle market with Tesla Inc and other Silicon Valley firms as well as traditional automakers including General Motors and Ford Motor Co, which are racing to bring fully commercial self-driving vehicles on the road.
Transportation experts have predicted that the earliest applications of autonomous driving technology will be in trucks since the highways are predictable compared to the busy and twists and turned city streets.