Uber has launched a website for a service called Uber Freight. While there are little details about the company’s expansion from ride-hailing, Uber Freight is meant to prepare the world for autonomous delivery trucks, according to Inverse. From the report: Uber acquired a startup called Otto, which planned to bring the first self-driving trucks to market, in August. Since then the company has used its trucks to deliver 50,000 cans of beer and hundreds of Christmas trees in San Francisco. This new service won’t use those trucks, at least not at the beginning. Instead it will function much like Uber’s existing platform: Some people will sign up to drive items across the country, and others will join so they can send packages without having to sign a contract with established shipping companies. The service will likely bring “surge pricing” to trucking, too. Uber Freight could also help Otto’s trucks by using data gathered from drivers on the platform. This would allow the self-driving vehicles to learn from experienced people while regulators figure out how to govern autonomous trucks and the technology catches up to all of the promises made by its creators. Uber Freight’s launch coincides with growing interest in trucking from many tech companies. Nikola Motor Company wants to use tech to make trucking more environmentally friendly and appealing to millennials; Tesla’s working on self-driving trucks; the list could go on. Uber told Inverse it’s going to wait until the new year to elaborate on how the system works. “We don’t have any new information to share at the moment,” a spokesperson said, “but hope to in the new year so please do stay in touch.” It looks like the future of trucking — or at least one potential future — is going to take a little while longer to make its debut.
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