Uber's autonomous trucks are now doing actual work for customers via Uber Freight, Uber's commercial cargo shipping on-demand app. The first runs are being done in Arizona, with regular hauls operating with both human drivers and autonomous trucks working in tandem.
How it works is that Uber will load up the freight on a conventional, human driven truck who collects the load from the shipper and then does a short haul run to a transfer hub. The short haul truck then loads its cargo onto a long-haul freight transport, which is autonomous for the purposes of these trips. That self-driving test truck handles the highway driving for the longer portion of the trip, handing it off once again to a human-driven trip for the short haul cap to the overall journey.
Uber Freight handles the load sourcing, just as it dos for connecting shippers with regular human truckers. Uber's Advanced Technology Group is simply deploying its self-driving trucks on the Uber Freight platform, in the same way that the autonomous team within Uber is using the Uber ride-hailing network to test and deploy its self-driving ride share vehicles.
Uber has a video depicting this journey, which took place staring in then midwest and then via short haul to Sanders, Arizona, where it was loaded onto an autonomous truck and then transferred to Topock, Arizona, where it made the switch to another human-driven vehicle.
This is a big step towards commercialization of Uber's autonomous truck tech, and it seems like it puts it ahead of some competitors who want to do similar things, including Embark trucking. It's also the first we've heard about Uber's self-driving truck business in a little while, so it's good to see Uber's continuing to make progress and devote attention to this issue.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.