Uber Acquires Trucking Company, Wants To Sell Freight Services

Image courtesy of frankieleon

Consumers know Uber as a replacement for short-range taxis, but the company has other transportation goals. The company recently acquired Otto, a startup that’s developing self-driving trucks. While autonomous vehicles zooming freight across the country are its long-term goal, Uber plans get into the long-haul trucking business long before self-driving trucks are the norm.

Otto is pretty small: it currently has only six trucks, and plans to expand it to fifteen under Uber. Reuters reports today that while the technology is being developed, the vehicles ride around carrying a human driver and an engineer, much like the experimental self-driving Uber passenger cars roaming the streets of Pittsburgh.

While eliminating expensive and error-prone human drivers is a long-term goal of the trucking and personal transportation industries, experts don’t think that autonomous tractor-trailers will be a thing for at least a few decades. Instead, what Uber has its eye on is the low-margin, inefficient freight brokerage industry, perhaps routing trucks across the country in the same way that it routes cars across your city.

Until autonomous trucks become a thing, Uber and Otto plan to hire the same owner-operators you see on the highways today, and use its routing and mapping technology to find new ways to route loads and act as a freight broker. That’s a job that’s still done over the phone in a time-consuming and inefficient way.

Exclusive: Uber to move freight, target trucking for the long haul [Reuters]

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