Uber’s self-driving Volvo trucks are now moving across Arizona’s highways, moving cargo for Uber Freight customers.
In a recent announcement, Uber said the testing was complete, with trials underway using its autonomous trucks to move cargo for unnamed customers. Very little details have been revealed, with no word on the number of self-driving vehicles, the types of customers, freight moved, or the total number of miles driven.
In a nutshell, the process (dubbed the “transfer hub model” by Uber) starts with human drivers, who carry loads to a transfer station. It is then intercepted by an autonomous Uber truck, which moves it to a second transfer station, where a second human driver picks it up and carries it on short-haul to its final destination.
“We think self-driving technology has tremendous potential to solve some of the big problems that the trucking industry has today,” said Alden Woodrow, product manager for Uber’s self-driving truck unit.
Launched in May 2017, Uber Freight matches independent and company-affiliated truckers with companies that need cargo moved. One of its first milestones was the completion of 2,000 cases of Budweiser on a 120-mile trip from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs, Colo. using a human safety driver.
Prior to that, it acquired $650-million San Francisco-based startup Otto, a self-driving truck company that focused on building hardware kits for existing trucks.
No word on when Uber Freight will start using self-driving trucks en masse, with a large number of regulatory hurdles and other challenges still in its infancy.