Uber Freight and Waymo Via just announced a long-term strategic partnership to connect their technologies and deploy autonomous trucks at scale on the Uber Freight network. According to the announcement, carriers that purchase trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver in the future will be able to opt-in to Uber Freight’s marketplace to seamlessly deploy their autonomous assets on the Uber Freight network. This announcement informs two often asked about possible futures: autonomous driving and logistics.
An ecosystem where human drivers and autonomous trucks can collaborate effortlessly in a hybrid network to move freightUber Blog – Uber Freight and Waymo Via partner to accelerate the future of logistics
The two companies share a vision where future autonomous trucks tackle the long-haul portion of driving, easing some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight while also enabling drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that enhance the occupation’s quality of life. Given the shortage of drivers, this is another example of innovation aimed at both improving a domain, while at the same time addressing a challenge. I described a similar scenario in an earlier post on freight-as-a-service. In that example, TuSimple (a start-up), has embraced a transfer hub model and describes it as an autonomous freight network. A different article provided a quote that captures this emerging scenario.
Operating in the middle mile simplifies the technological challenges. It is simpler to operate an autonomous truck on an interstate than the first and last miles. Navigation is also simpler because the trucks will move on defined routes that have been pre-mapped in a manner that the truck computer understands. Further, the middle mile offers fewer “edge cases.”Steve Banker – The Autonomous Truck Revolution Is Right Around The Corner
This video interview via Bloomberg between Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana and Emily Chang at the Bloomberg Technology Summit discusses the future of autonomous cars, Waymo’s changing outlook since its inception in 2011, and provides an update on its driverless trucks.