After spending years working with autonomous driving companies to try and replace human drivers on its ride-sharing app, Uber now apparently wants to do the same with professional truckers. The tech company has just partnered with Waymo with the hopes of bringing autonomous trucks to Uber Freight, the part of Uber that connects truckers with companies that have trailers that need delivering.
Thanks to this new collaboration, Uber and Waymo claim to be ‘empowering’ the troubled logistics sector by giving operators more options for how to get their freight delivered.
To do this, trucks fitted with Waymo’s self-driving tech will be implemented into Uber Freight’s marketplace alongside human truckers. Eventually, the aim is to allow companies to use these autonomous trucks to get their goods shipped.
The partnership will begin with autonomous trucks already in Waymo’s test fleet. A little ways down the road, carriers that purchase trucks equipped with Waymo tech will also be able to offer their services through Uber Freight.
The two firms claim the partnership will “unlock capacity at a time when shippers need it most,” and argue that it will have a “meaningful” long-term impact on the logistics sector.
In a release, Lior Ron, head of Uber Freight, explained:
This partnership is an exciting leap forward, and we are proud to work alongside the amazing team at Waymo Via to pioneer a hybrid freight network that truly empowers carriers and will ring in a new era of logistics.
It’s interesting that these firms are convinced the solution to any trucker shortage lies solely in creating new technology to replace truckers. You know, rather than simply improving pay and working conditions so people want to work in the trucking industry.
Regardless, it marks a new chapter for the relationship between Uber and Waymo — a relationship that, until recently, you could describe as “tense” at best.
In 2018, the two companies appeared in court after it was alleged that an ex-Waymo employee brought trade secrets to a new job at Uber. This was settled after just five days, when Uber was ordered to pay Waymo 0.34 percent of its equity, which at the time was valued at approximately $245 million.