The Future of Trucking
Look around you for a moment. Almost everything you see has spent time on a truck, from the beans for your morning coffee, to the screen you’re reading right now. At the heart of America’s massive trucking industry are 3.5 million drivers. These men and women are behind the wheel for about 10% of the total miles driven across the country, hauling a whopping 14 billion tons of freight every year. That’s almost 250 pounds of goods for each American, every single day.
Uber’s mission is to provide reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere. Our ridesharing network has made billions of connections between riders and drivers. Now we’re investing in trucking, and we believe the future is bright.
In the last year, we’ve gotten to know truck drivers across the country. They’ve shared stories about what it’s like to have the interstate be your home office, and the challenges they see on a daily basis. Today, truck shipments often take longer than necessary because drivers face congestion on the roads and long load times at warehouses. Sourcing and scheduling freight is a surprisingly manual, time-intensive process that can take several hours and multiple phone calls. And drivers often go weeks on the road, missing birthdays and other important family moments. Meanwhile, more goods are moving on the road each year. We’re focused on solving these problems and helping freight get around the country faster, safer, and more efficiently.
That’s why we created Uber Freight, a free app that matches carriers and their drivers with loads to haul. Uber Freight was built with driver feedback in mind and provides upfront, transparent carrier pricing and the ability to book a load with the touch of a button. More recently, we introduced Take Me Home, which helps drivers get home as quickly as possible while getting paid for the journey.
Meanwhile, a dedicated team within our Advanced Technologies Group is developing self-driving trucks to help drive the industry forward and support the increasing demand for freight. Just last fall, one of our self-driving trucks made a 120-mile journey with a trailer full of Budweiser with a driver in the cab monitoring the trip. In the near future, these trucks will drive on select highways without anyone inside.
Together our teams are working to build the future of trucking.
We envision a future where truck drivers and self-driving trucks work together to move freight around the country. Self-driving trucks will manage long haul driving on some interstate highways, but having two hands on the wheel will still be the best way to get a load to its final destination. Truck drivers possess the critical skills that self-driving trucks may never match — like backing into a tight dock, navigating a busy industrial yard, or moving axles on a trailer.
As self-driving trucks begin to handle some long haul routes, transfer hubs will spring up near cities and towns. These hubs will be central exchanges where self-driving trucks and truck drivers switch loads.
In the future, a driver might go to a transfer hub to drop off a trailer of California avocados from a local farm, and be matched with a load of Florida oranges that just came off a self-driving truck and is headed out for local delivery. Uber Freight will help coordinate those transfers in minutes, instead of the hours it can take today at facilities. This kind of efficiency will allow carriers and drivers to keep moving, continue earning, and stay close to home. And for drivers who prefer the open road, long haul opportunities will still exist on routes across the country for many years to come.
There’s plenty of work ahead, but we’re excited about a future where our roads are safer, goods get to where they need to be faster, and drivers have more say in where and how they work. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing more about how trucking might change. We hope you’ll follow along.