Uber launches self-driving trucking program

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Uber launches self-driving trucking program

The logo for Uber Technologies is seen on a vehicle in Manhattan, New York City.

On Wednesday, Aurora Innovation Inc announced that it had launched a pilot program with the freight unit of Uber Technologies Inc to transport goods in Texas and integrate autonomous trucking into Uber Freight's shipping platform.

Aurora began autonomously transporting loads for Uber Freight customers between Dallas and Houston last week. The company plans to launch its commercial autonomous trucking business by the end of 2023, starting in Texas.

Uber bought Uber's autonomous vehicle unit, ATG last year, and Uber acquired a 26% ownership interest in Aurora, which is an investor in Aurora.

Uber Freight is a platform that connects shippers with available truck drivers, oftentimes independent contractors in a highly fragmented market.

The use of trucks will allow shippers to increase the capacity of the truck and haul more good between terminals, Aurora said. Human truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours per day - restrictions that do not apply to self-driving trucks.

The pilot program deploys drop-and- hook loads, an industry term that describes a driver dropping off a full container at a terminal and then immediately grabbing a new one, without waiting for it to be unloaded.

Human-operated trucks booked through the Uber Freight network then handle the last mile to the actual destination, where the goods are being unloaded, the companies said.