By: Nick Gambino

When you think of Uber, you generally think of calling a car to drive you somewhere or getting food delivered. But there’s another side to the tech company that you may have never heard of – Uber Freight.

Uber Freight is a whole different business and essentially exists to connect truckers with shippers. It’s similar to their popular ride-hailing platform, but instead of connecting drivers with passengers, it connects truck drivers with shipping companies. They currently manage a whopping $18 billion a year in cargo.

Uber partnered up with autonomous vehicle company Aurora Innovation over three years ago on a pilot that saw the latter company acquiring Uber’s self-driving unit. Now they’ve inked a long-term deal that will see Uber Freight utilizing Aurora self-driving trucks until at least 2030. The contract is part of a new program they’re calling Premier Autonomy.

“Uber Freight and Aurora see a tremendous opportunity to democratize autonomous trucks for carriers of all sizes, enabling them to drive more revenue, scale their fleets, and strengthen their bottom lines,” the founder and CEO of Uber Freight, Lior Ron, said in a press release statement.

To kick things off Uber Freight will be one of their first customers, providing self-driving trucks to the freight hauler on the Dallas to Houston shipping route sometime in late 2024.

This innovative and, frankly, disruptive move comes at a time when freight shipping is going through a sort of crisis. It has never fully recovered from the interruption to the supply chain during the Covid pandemic.

“With Uber Freight, we can provide hundreds of carriers priority access to autonomous truck capacity that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” the President of Aurora, Ossa Fisher, said. “Working with carriers of all sizes is one of the many ways we will transform the industry and see thousands of driverless trucks on the road.”

While they have signed a multi-year deal, we will have to follow the trend of driverless freight trucks over the next couple years. As it stands, I’m not sold that this will be a widely adopted system.