The Uber-owned self-driving truck startup hopes to market an aftermarket kit that will provide Level 4 autonomy – meaning a truck driver could nap while his rig barrels down the road.
Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY
SAN FRANICSCO — Uber Freight, which officially launched in May as a way for short-haul truckers to more easily book their loads, is making a big national push after a test run in Texas.
Truckers will be able to book freight pick-ups in California, Arizona, Georgia, the Carolinas and around the Chicago area, the company announced in a blog post Thursday. The rollout will take a few months. The Uber Freight app also will begin proactively suggesting loads to truckers based on their past routes and deliveries.
“We aren’t releasing specific numbers on carriers and shipments, but since we started testing with Texas truckers in January we’ve seen a tenfold increase in load volumes,” Bill Driegert, director of Uber Freight, told USA TODAY.
Traditionally, truckers have used brokers to schedule their routes. But with the advent of smartphones and algorithms, that task can now be handled by an app.
The space is getting hot. Seattle-based Convoy, which launched its trucking app in 2015, recently announced that it had closed a $62 million Series B round with investments from Y Combinator as well Bill Gates.
Finding a new revenue stream in the trucking world makes sense for Uber, which is facing headwinds in both its internal politics (the company is on the hunt for a CEO after co-founder Travis Kalanick was ousted in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal) and its international expansion (Uber’s hopes to rule ride-hailing in China and Russia have devolved into partnerships).
Trucking remains the lifeblood of American commerce, an $800 billion a year business that struggles to find enough drivers to meet demand.
Apps such as Convoy and Uber Freight hope to address a few common concerns of drivers, which include transparency and efficient in payments as well as route scheduling that gets them home faster.
“There are a variety of companies out there calling themselves the ‘Uber of freight,’ but we feel there are nuances in the transportation market that we…