Uber’s self-driving trucks are now delivering freight in Arizona
Uber’s big push to dominate the trucking industry took a leap forward today with the announcement that the ride-hailing giant is now operating its fleet of self-driving trucks on its freight-hauling app. The shipments are taking place in Arizona, where the ride-hailing giant is also testing out its robot taxis. Uber said it is using a transfer hub model, in which the trucks drive autonomously on the highway and human drivers take over for the last miles.
By using transfer hubs, Uber argues that its use of robot trucks will add more jobs, at least in the short term. The reason is that Uber’s self-driving trucks aren’t advanced enough for dock-to-dock runs, and they won’t be for a long time. They still require a safety driver behind the wheel during operation. In the meantime, shippers use Uber Freight to book a trucker, who arrives in a conventional long-haul truck. The trucker then drives a short-haul trip to a transfer hub outside of town, where they are met by one of Uber’s self-driving trucks (with an Uber-employed safety driver on board).
The trailer is transferred to the self-driving truck, which then drives autonomously for the long-haul, highway portion of the trip — including a safety driver behind the wheel. Near the destination, the self-driving truck exits the highway and takes the load to a second transfer hub. A second driver in a conventional truck picks up the trailer and provides the short haul for delivery to the final destination. That driver just dropped off a different load at the same hub before receiving the autonomous truck delivery.