Uber to move freight using Otto self-driving trucks

Monday, October 31, 2016

Self-driving truck manufacturer Otto has joined the Uber team and has plans for the future of commercial transportation: first, self-driving trucks that provide drivers unprecedented levels of safety; and second, a platform that matches truck drivers with the right load wherever they are.

In July Uber bought Otto for $65 million. Otto’s main focus was to build self-driving truck kits that operators could buy and install on their own, but it also had plans for its own ‘Uber for trucking’ marketplace.

In an interview with Business Insider, Eric Berdinis, the product lead on Uber Freight, said that even though Otto started with the announcement of the self-driving trucks, they always intended to build a marketplace that would allow self-driving trucks to flourish.

In the months since Uber acquired Otto, the company has already soft-launched its new trucking business, Uber Freight, a marketplace that links shippers with trucks in a similar fashion to the Uber app for drivers and passengers. The team will work with a small number of shippers and carriers in the US before officially launching next year.

Otto says that drivers shouldn’t have to choose between safety and earnings. Its self-driving trucks will allow drivers to rest while their truck is moving, and their new platform will ensure drivers can easily find loads and are paid fairly.

By combining these two technologies, Otto says it can create a freight network that is constantly learning and improving. Each truck that joins the network can provide valuable information that makes all other trucks safer and more efficient. In turn, drivers get paid more and shippers get a more reliable service. Self-driving trucks together with a marketplace create a virtuous cycle where everyone benefits.

“By joining forces with Uber we can fast forward to the future,” say Otto. “Together, Otto and Uber can build the backbone of the rapidly-approaching self-driving freight system. We can help make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone, whether you’re talking people or packages.”

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