Uber Freight and Google’s driverless division, Waymo Via, have announced a long-term strategic partnership to connect their technologies and deploy autonomous trucks at scale on the Uber Freight network.
It says this partnership brings together “the power of Waymo’s autonomous driving technology with the scale of Uber Freight’s network and leading marketplace technology, unlocking a road map for the thoughtful and safe implementation of autonomous trucks on roads across the US”.
The companies say the agreement is an important milestone that includes a deep product integration and long-term collaboration roadmap that involves building the tools and infrastructure specific to the successful deployment of autonomous trucks for Uber Freight’s shipper and carrier customers. Carriers that purchase trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver in the future will be able to opt in to Uber Freight’s marketplace through user-friendly applications letting them seamlessly deploy their autonomous assets on the Uber Freight network.
These applications will provide a streamlined experience for onboarding, load booking and execution, trailer transfers, and payment while also enabling an ecosystem where human drivers and autonomous trucks can collaborate effortlessly in a hybrid network to move freight. Both companies envision a future where autonomous trucks tackle the long-haul portion of driving, easing some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight while also enabling drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that enhance the occupation’s quality of life. Additionally, the companies will explore what the transfer hub model could look like with Uber Freight’s universal trailer pool program, Powerloop, for easy and fast transfers between autonomous trucks and human drivers, streamlining operations between the first, middle, and final mile.
As part of the long-term agreement, Waymo Via says it intends to reserve billions of miles of its goods-only capacity for the Uber Freight network, and that for shippers, the scale and depth of this partnership means that Uber Freight, alongside Transplace, will be able to integrate autonomy seamlessly into shipper networks and advise on how best to adjust their supply-chain strategies for a hybrid network future — where autonomously-driven trucks and human-driven trucks operate side by side to move freight more efficiently and safely. Uber Freight says it is also uniquely positioned to combine shipments from its $17 billion of freight under management to maximise utilisation of autonomous and human-driven trucks, and continuously optimise routes once the technology is deployed, driving savings and improving service and reliability for shippers.
“Uber Freight’s extensive, efficient, and reliable digital network is essential to making autonomous trucks a reality,” says Lior Ron, Head of Uber Freight. “We are uniquely positioned to be the preferred network for autonomous trucks, with the scale and the marketplace expertise to deploy autonomous trucks in a way that benefits the entire industry. This partnership is an exciting leap forward, and we are proud to work alongside the amazing team at Waymo Via to pioneer a hybrid freight network that truly empowers carriers and will ring in a new era of logistics.”
“Uber Freight’s network of shippers, carriers, and marketplace technology is a great match for the Waymo Driver,” says Charlie Jatt, Head of Commercialization for Trucking, Waymo Via. “Through this partnership, we can empower carriers to fully utilize their investments in the Waymo Via solution through Uber Freight and create a great experience for shippers, while keeping our focus on developing the core Driver technology. We’re really excited to see how this partnership can impact the logistics industry and solve critical challenges over the next decade and beyond.”
“Partnering with Uber Freight opens up really interesting opportunities for us to help scale the Waymo Driver,” says Boris Sofman, Head of Engineering for Trucking, Waymo Via. “By combining the Waymo Via solution with the Uber Freight platform, we’ll be able to apply proven marketplace technology to help carriers dynamically deploy the Waymo Driver where it’s most valuable and most capable. We can’t wait to see what else comes from this deep collaboration.”
The Companies note this partnership comes at a time of high fuel costs, a shortage of drivers, and rapidly increasing demand. “The future of the industry will rely on a combination of autonomously driven and human-driven trucks deployed efficiently and at scale across a digital and optimised network,” they say in a statement. “The innovative hybrid freight model between Uber Freight and Waymo Via will be the key to unlocking much-needed capacity for shippers, increasing fuel efficiency, providing carriers with the opportunity to scale their businesses, and ultimately streamlining global supply chains to the benefit of everyone.”
(Picture – Uber)