Ride-sharing service Uber has officially entered the freight transportation market. The San Francisco-based company has taken the first step toward automating trucker jobs with the launch of its Uber Freight application dedicated to match truckers and small logistics companies with loads to haul.
Uber Freight gives independent truckers full autonomy. Through the smartphone app truckers can sign-on for loads, track cargo in real-time, and get paid easily, faster, within seven days, and right at their fingertips.
How the app works
Through the iOS or Android application vetted users can search for loads and tap on their smartphones to book the chosen loads. In a matter of seconds, the user receives a rate confirmation.
Eric Berdinis, product manager at Uber Freight explains on a blog post that this eliminates “a common anxiety in trucking about whether or not the load is really confirmed.”
An important feature of the application is that Uber Freight commits to paying truckers within a few days and fee-free. There are accessorial rates that are paid when drivers must wait longer than expected.
Big logistics companies such as UPS and FedEx have been heavily investing on new technologies to enhance their trucking business. However, Uber is directly targeting the trucking brokerage market.
The response to Uber Freight from both shippers and carriers has been so overwhelming that Uber had to scale up its operations. The company opened an office in Chicago to be able to handle demand.
The future of trucking
The company is moving into other spaces more commercially transport-focused since acquiring self-driving vehicles company Otto last year as part of its plans to build out fleets of autonomous trucks.
Uber might just merge the current Uber Freight with its autonomous trucks. By doing this, truckers get the help and benefits of the autonomous technology, and will have more time on the road to manage loads and other tasks. So far, there is still need for human drivers supervising most of the self-driving technology.
However, after news about trucking regulations and the current shortage of truck drivers there could be more than one way Uber Freight could be beneficial for fighting the shortage of drivers.
One of the main reasons for the shortage of drivers is the trucker aging population and the difficulty in replacing them. Uber Freight combined with its fleet of autonomous trucks might be either enough to attract a new generation of drivers ready to jump on the ride, or an alternative answer for the trucking industry facing the increasing shortage of drivers.
Trucking has certainly become a hot space to follow and to watch closely.