Self-driving Uber trucks secretly moving freight

By: Cobey Bartels


Otto vehicles said to be giving way to Volvo in trials

 

Uber this week announced that self-driving trucks have been making deliveries in Arizona via the company's freight service.

The Uber Freight app has reportedly been using a fleet of automated trucks to complete the highway component of delivery runs in Arizona.

"This a big step forward in self-driving truck technology, and the future of the freight industry at large," the company said in a statement.

Until now Uber Freight has connected human drivers with shippers in selected regions in the US, with a driver-focused approach that aims to get drivers home and paid on time.

In a video from Uber Advanced Technologies Group, the company explains the self-driving trucks will be used to complete the highway leg of a journey, while human drivers do the rest.

A second video introduces the concept of ‘transfer hubs’, where a load is transferred from a human driver to a self-driving truck that completes the highway run, allowing the original driver to collect another load.

In theory this means a lot more drivers could be doing only local work, while those 'supervising' in the cab of the self-driving trucks could be doing only highway work.

Back in 2016, Uber bought into autonomous trucks acquiring Otto, an American company that developed an autonomous driving kit that could be retrofitted to existing heavy vehicles.

The Otto system was fitted to a Volvo test track and, according to reports, the fleet of trucks Uber is using in the autonomous trials right now are Volvo rigs.

 

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