Could your next yard truck be robotically driven? Alongside autonomous or ‘self-driving’ cars, autonomous tractor trailer technology is entering the market. Turns out Uber isn’t just interested in toting people around … It’s in it for the long-haul. Literally.
Uber Ramps Up Robo-Trucking Efforts
Uber’s been trying to rule over the self-driving big-rig market since it acquired Anthony Levandowski’s self-driving truck company, Otto, in 2006. But it’s far from the only contender battling for market share. Daimler, Tesla, Waymo, Volvo, and even some startups are parrying for position in what’s seen as the future of long-haul trucking.
Driver Shortage Fuels Efforts
Online shopping is pushing out the traditional retail purchase, and with Americans ordering and shipping more and more stuff, and a driver deficit, the market is primed for new players. And though it’s tough to get vehicles to drive themselves in the city, on the freeway is another story.
Dangerous Curves Ahead
Still at issue: The difficulty of trucks safely negotiating industrial yards, intersections, and areas with pedestrians. To navigate such issues, those in the robo-trucking game are trying-on different tactics. Startup Starsky is looking to remote operation on service streets, like an RC car.
Uber is trying out the ‘bar pilot’ model, using humans to pick-up shipments and transfer them to robo-truck transfer hubs situated highway-side, with a hand-off in reverse at the exit. For now it’s trying the task at weigh stations off I-40 in Sanders and Topock, Arizona. Their goal is not only safety, but logistical efficiency, to maximize profit and minimize liability in an arena of multiple players sharing the same tote.
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