Uber executives have long maintained the highly non-controversial opinion that autonomous driving represents the future of transportation. That being the case, Uber back in 2015 essentially poached nearly every engineer from Carnegie Mellon’s robotics center in an effort to bolster its own autonomous driving efforts. And just one year later, Uber spent $680 million to acquire Otto, a self-driving truck company staffed by a number of former Googlers, including Anthony Levandowski who, as we’d later find out, may have stolen gigabytes of proprietary Google code and handed it over to Uber.
But in the midst of all the hoopla surrounding Google lawsuit against Uber — which was settled last month — Uber has quietly started using self-driving trucks to help transport cargo in Arizona.
In a video posted to the company’s YouTube channel earlier today, Uber shows how Uber Freight is being utilized to facilitate the transportation of freight. In the interest of safety, Uber’s self-driving trucks are naturally manned by an operator as the truck drives itself across long stretches of highway with no human interaction. Towards the end of the journey, the truck drops off the cargo at a transfer hub where a traditional truck picks up the trailer and takes it to its final destination.
Uber envisions a future where self-driving trucks and truck drivers work together to move freight around the country. Self-driving trucks will manage long-haul driving on interstate highways, but having two hands on the wheel will still be the best way to get a load to its final destination. Transfer hubs are an essential part of our vision for the future. We see them placed strategically across the country near cities and towns, bridging the gap between local and long-haul trucking.
The video below highlights how the entire process works.
A real-life example can be seen below.