Uber has already begun self-driving truck hauls in Arizona according to a new video that the ride sharing company has posted up to its Uber Advanced Technologies Group YouTube channel, where it briefly demonstrates the basic details of a coordinated effort between an Uber self-driving truck and a normal semi truck driver. The efforts showcase what Uber envisions to be the future of cargo hauls where its self-driving trucks (still operated by a truck driver as some hands-on work is required, such as helping to switch trailers) complete long hauls across the country and swap trailers with short-haul truck drivers.
Uber says these kinds of transfers will be happening all across the country within the next few years, making no claims to exact timing. That said this sheds light on where Uber is in the scheme of things when it comes to self-driving technology in addition to the testing it’s been doing with regular vehicles on public roads. While Uber may not be the farthest along in the scheme of self-driving cars when it comes to a ride-sharing/taxi perspective, its focus on moving cargo around displays that it’s not concerned with just transporting people from place to place, it also wants to help simplify and somewhat revolutionize the freight system.
Uber Freight, which is the app that Uber will be using for its services, is in a way intended to help the company merge the likes of manual trucking with autonomous trucking, though both will still need drivers whereas something like Waymo‘s self-driving vans would not as the company is set to begin rolling out fully autonomous vehicles with no human driver at some point this year, also in Arizona and specifically Phoenix. Uber seems to have made the right decision here when it comes to the self-driving industry though, as it’s suspected that the self-driving industry will see trucks to be the first vehicles of this nature on the road due to the conditions of the drive, which are typically long, hardly winding stretches of highway that would allow the testing to be done with relative ease in comparison with city driving. Though Uber already seems to be doing some roll outs of the trucks already there is likely still a long ways to go.