Quiet Launch of Uber Freight

Editor Newsletter

We all know Uber as the master of transporting people and food around cities, but with their recent acquisition of Otto, a self-driving trucking company that Uber purchased in July for $65 million, we may now see their footprint in the long-haul business with the Uber Freight division. Otto's core focus was to build self-driving truck kits that equipment manufacturers or freight networks could buy and install on their own. What they also secretly wanted to build was their own "Uber for trucking" marketplace. Eric Berdinis, the product lead on Uber Freight, told Business Insider, "Even if you look pre-acquisition, Otto was always about reinventing transportation. Even though we started with the announcement of the self-driving trucks, we were always intending to build a marketplace that would allow self-driving trucks to flourish." Just four months since it was acquired by Uber, the company has grown and has already soft-launched its new trucking business, Uber Freight. Like how the Uber app connects drivers with riders, the first product from Uber Freight is a marketplace to connect a shipper with a truck. The method currently used by companies today is to go through a brokerage firm which makes calls to trucking companies and arranges the best deals for its customers. In this scenario, however, the broker takes a commission of between 15 and 20%. What the Uber Freight marketplace will do is cut out the middleman and offer shipper's real-time pricing of what it will cost to move their products based on supply and demand. What this could mean though is surge pricing for trucks. There are a few other companies trying to do the same thing as Uber Freight but it's a tough nut to crack. Berdinis is confident, however, that the combination of Uber's intellectual property and worldwide operations team will make Uber Freight successful. There is a lot more work to be done before primetime. What all this means in the event that Uber Freight is successful, is paving the way for autonomous vehicles. Carriers and shippers who join Uber Freight can be the first customers for the Otto self-driving kit. To the skeptics, Berdinis offers the following: "Maybe some might be skeptical that it's happening next week, but if you think 50 years from now there's still going to be people calling trucks to find out where the truck is when GPS was invented 80 years ago, we know that that's not possible. The future can't be that way, and we know we're marching down the right path."

Business Insider - Oct 26th, 2016


CPC Commentary: Load boards are not new, but the automation and integration of day-to-day devices, like our smart phones is new. We find it very interesting that Internet companies are seeking driverless transportation solutions as the future; I believe there will be a required human touch to a delivery going forward, so although the technology is bridging the gap of know-how and quicker connectivity, there will always be a need to have a human delivery touch.

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