- Self-driving truck startup Otto, which was purchased by Uber in August, is making moves to enter the long-haul truckload market by seeking partnerships with independent truckers and expanding its fleet to 15 trucks, according to an exclusive by Reuters.
- The move contradicts pervious statements by Otto that the company was solely looking to develop and sell equipment. Otto had pledged, however, to not displace workers — a pledge it appears to be honoring through its conversations with owner-operators. Of course, those statements were before Uber purchased the startup and partnered with Volvo.
- The self-driven trucks are currently being tested for responsiveness at different weights within the facilities, although they still require an engineer to monitor the situation, according to Reuters.
Autonomous trucks, while an exciting and potentially disruptive technology, are still many years away and logistics companies are not that worried about the technology. This is partly because the technology is at its earliest stage and has yet to prove its capability to operate without a human driver.
Long-haul shipments are far from simple: fully autonomous vehicles would have to be tested for severe weather disruptions and weight balancing techniques, among other trade-specifics. Due to this, some even doubt the technology will ever reach full autonomy given the safety risks involved with driverless vehicles.
However, Uber is currently leading the race for autonomous vehicles having deployed commercial, self-driven cars in Pittsburgh this month. Despite skepticism over commercial applicability, the technology is rapidly advancing and is worth keeping an eye on — specially as the companies begin to engage directly with other actors in the field (owner operators and shippers).