Ride-hailing company Uber is moving beyond taxi services and self-driving rides to enter the long-haul trucking business as a potential freight hauler and technology partner. The company recently acquired self-driving truck startup company Otto to help it pursue this ambition.
The San-Francisco based company has already started pitching ideas to shippers, truck fleets and independent drivers. While Otto's main focus was on trucks with self-driving technology Uber plans to offer additional services like brokering between truck fleets and shippers.
As fully autonomous truck operations are still years away, Uber's plan is to first establish itself as a dependable freight hauling brand and then use the self-driving technology to its advantage when it is ready. The Uber-Otto deal is all about collated efforts to develop technologies involving navigation, mapping and tracking, which can be deployed even as work continues on self-driving systems.
Reuters reports that Uber wants to transform the trucking industry which is highly fragmented at the moment into a $700bn-a-year organised sector. The company will have to face competition from various players in the industry ranging from established ones and publicly traded companies to local pop-up trucking businesses.
Uber's diversification plans from the original taxi-hailing company into ventures like food delivery and truck businesses stem from the growing competitive environment in the ride-hailing industry. The company may be the current leader among ride-hailing apps across the globe but does not solely want to depend on income from only that business, according to reports.