Ridesharing giant Uber is taking aim at the trucking industry. It has just announced that Uber Freight is rolling out nationwide.
Uber has been testing out their trucking experiment in Texas since late last year, and now it’s being rolled out across the country. The company is hoping to have as big an impact on the trucking industry as it did on taxis. And they’re trying to bill their service as a way to liberate drivers from a broken system.
In their announcement, titled “Uber Freight – Leveling the Playing Field for America’s Truck Drivers,” Uber seems to be focusing on trying to tackle some common owner-operator complaints. Uber promises upfront pricing, payment “within a few days” of load delivery, fast confirmation of loads, and pay for “when things don’t go as planned” which includes detention time and layover pay.
But while Uber Freight may be new to the market, there are already apps that act as ‘the Uber for trucking.’ Uber Freight is missing some features that those apps already have. And it currently only supports full truckload freight, saying that LTL loads may come in the future.
Critics of Uber Freight point out that while they may seem to be championing drivers, they are currently developing driverless technology. They own Otto, a company that develops technology for autonomous trucks.
Others question whether on-demand freight services could ever take off in the same way that on-demand passenger services did. Uber’s success relied in part on a huge untapped labor market; people who owned cars and were willing to drive people around for extra cash. The barrier to entry was incredibly low: have a driver’s license, have a car, have some free time. For Uber Freight, finding drivers might not be quite so simple.
Launching Uber Freight is a big leap for the company. They’ve had a series of tough breaks including scandals involving their CEO as well as a lawsuit brought against them by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, who claim that Otto’s founder stole proprietary technology related to their self-driving systems.
A judge just recently ruled that Uber can continue developing their autonomous driving tech even while the lawsuit is ongoing as long as the alleged thief is not involved.