Uber's Self-driving Trucks Are Already Delivering Goods in Arizona

Customers can now ship freight in Arizona using Uber's self-driving trucks.                  Uber  Gregory Murphy

Customers can now ship freight in Arizona using Uber's self-driving trucks. Uber Gregory Murphy

Having a human driver at each end of the trip works around the limitations of fully autonomous trucks.

Waymo claimed that Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo employee and founder of the self-driving truck company Otto, had stolen trade secrets related to light detection and ranging sensors and passed them on to Uber when Uber acquired Otto.

The autonomous vehicles function in conjunction with human drivers, taking on long-haul freight transport assignments, while human drivers handle shorter transfers.

Uber's (Private:UBER) fleet of self-driving trucks can now deliver shipments in Arizona.

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The company has been quietly contracting with trucking companies to use Uber's self-driving Volvo trucks to take on loads through the state, meeting the automated vehicle at the Arizona border via transfer hubs and then transferring to a driven truck later to complete the trip, USA Today reported. The trucks will operate first in Arizona, a state with famously permissive laws for self-driving technology. Uber's trucks are being operated through "Uber Freight", a shipping-on-demand app.

"The big step for us recently is that we can plan to haul goods in both directions, using Uber Freight to coordinate load pickups and dropoffs with local truckers", said Alden Woodrow, product lead for Uber's self-driving trucks. Uber does not have the technology to make sure trucks can safely navigate through a city to their destination.

Uber has deployed its self-driving vehicles on the Uber Freight platform in the United States. Uber's self-driving trucks focus on the "long haul, highway" part of the delivery. This will be a lot like Uber's relationship with its conventional ride-hailing drivers: Uber is dependent on human drivers in the short run, even as it works on technologies that will eventually put them out of work entirely. "We're building something that solves problems in the industry... and also makes truck drivers' lives easier and better".

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