There are roughly 5.9 million commercial drivers operating in America today, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Those drivers’ jobs are now on the line as Uber has been experimenting with self-driving freight trucks. Via Uber Freight, autonomous trucks are now doing actual work for customers with Uber’s commercial cargo shipping on-demand app.
The Uber Advanced Technologies Group started working on self-driving trucks in 2016 and launched Uber Freight in May last year. Uber now wants to change the logistics market with their app. Using the app, shippers can ask to have cargo shipped at a fixed price while truck drivers nearby can accept the challenge if they deem the price to be fair.
According to Uber, the app will make it much easier to book transports as the parties will not need to contact each other. It will also not be necessary to negotiate prices and complete paperwork. With this new service, Uber wants to handle part of the job that freight forwarders have typically performed. Lior Ron, Senior Director at Uber and head of Uber Freight, said they are not viewing freight forwarders as competition, but more looking to them for collaboration.
According to Ron, Uber has already made agreements with several major shipping on the Forbes 500 list of the most valuable companies in America. The company also want to make life easier for medium-sized and small shippers, not just the big guys. Uber Freight is not only looking to make it easier to book cargoes and fine work for drivers as they are using their self-driving trucks as well.
These self-driving trucks are only to be used during the long-haul on major highways, not for the entire trip from origin to destination. “We are not even looking at what it would take to operate a self-driving truck on busier city streets,” Uber spokesperson Sarah Abboud said. “The highly skilled truck drivers out there today are going to facilitate these short-haul routes now and in the future.”