Uber's self-driving big rig trucks start moving freight in Arizona [Video]

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The ride-hailing startup says its autonomous big-rigs are using Uber FreightSelf-driving trucks match up with human drivers to ferry goods across ArizonaUber hopes to eliminate human drivers from being required to ride in the truckBy Afp and Annie Palmer For Dailymail.com Published: 17:21 EDT, 6...

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  • The ride-hailing startup says its autonomous big-rigs are using Uber Freight
  • Self-driving trucks match up with human drivers to ferry goods across Arizona
  • Uber hopes to eliminate human drivers from being required to ride in the truck

Uber‘s autonomous trucks are finally hitting the road.

The ride-hailing startup said on Tuesday that its self-driving big rigs have been ferrying cargo on highways in Arizona over the past few months. 

For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks.    

Humans pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs. 

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For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks. Humans pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs

For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks. Humans pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs

For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks. Humans pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs

Uber Freight is a free app that lets shippers book truckers with ease similar to how people can summon Uber car rides. 

At the transfer hubs, trailers are hitched onto self-driving trucks for long highway hauls.

The self-driving vehicles head to transfer hubs close to their destinations, where the trailers are hitched back onto human-steered rigs to complete their journeys.

Each autonomous big rig has a licensed truck driver at the wheel that can take over in emergency situations. 

Pictured is what it looks like inside the cab of Uber's autonomous trucks. Each self-driving truck is still manned by a human passenger that can take over in case of emergencies 

Pictured is what it looks like inside the cab of Uber's autonomous trucks. Each self-driving truck is still manned by a human passenger that can take over in case of emergencies 

Pictured is what it looks like inside the cab of Uber’s autonomous trucks. Each self-driving truck is still manned by a human passenger that can take over in case of emergencies 

But Uber also hopes to eliminate human drivers inside the cab eventually, according to the New York Times.  

‘This a big step forward in self-driving truck technology, and the future of the freight industry at large,’ Uber said in a release.

‘This paints a picture of the progress being made towards our vision for the future of trucking; now hauling real loads in Arizona,’ the firm added. 

Uber didn’t elaborate on how many trucks are operating in Arizona or what kinds of goods the vehicles are delivering.

The firm has been testing self-driving truck technology since 2016, and began using autonomous rigs for hauls late last year.

Uber claims to have made the first commercial shipment ever by self-driving truck when it hauled a trailer full of Budweiser beer some 120 miles of highway in Colorado.

WHAT IS UBER FREIGHT?

Uber launched a standalone app called Uber Freight in May 2017.

Uber Freight is a version of its on-demand ride application that lets truckers book cargo hauls with simple taps on a smartphone.

Available in the U.S., the app was touted by the company as an app that matches truckers or trucking companies with loads, and streamlines payments.

The company says it pays within seven days of each trip. 

Pictured is the Uber Freight app. Uber launched the standalone application for iOS and Android users in May 2017, billing it as a faster way for drivers to secure loads

Pictured is the Uber Freight app. Uber launched the standalone application for iOS and Android users in May 2017, billing it as a faster way for drivers to secure loads

Pictured is the Uber Freight app. Uber launched the standalone application for iOS and Android users in May 2017, billing it as a faster way for drivers to secure loads

Uber Freight ‘take[s] guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver’s day.’

Usually, this can take ‘several hours and multiple phone calls,’ the firm said.  

Truckers signing onto the service are vetted, so that only licensed drivers can operate vehicles.

Uber acquired commercial transport-focused tech startup Otto in late 2016 as the company pressed ahead with its pursuit of self-driving technology.

Uber said on Tuesday that its autonomous big rigs have begun carrying goods in Arizona. The firm didn't elaborate as to how many vehicles are on the road or what's being delivered 

Uber said on Tuesday that its autonomous big rigs have begun carrying goods in Arizona. The firm didn't elaborate as to how many vehicles are on the road or what's being delivered 

Uber said on Tuesday that its autonomous big rigs have begun carrying goods in Arizona. The firm didn’t elaborate as to how many vehicles are on the road or what’s being delivered 

The ride-hailing startup has been exploring a self-driving truck fleet ever since it acquired autonomous trucking firm Otto in 2016. 

The Otto acquisition was a key part to Uber’s contentious lawsuit with Alphabet’s self-driving car company, Waymo, which concerned allegedly stolen trade secrets. 

The companies eventually reached a settlement last month and are said to be exploring some kind of business partnership in the future.  

Newcomer Embark last year began using self-driving trucks to haul refrigerators from a warehouse in Texas to a distribution center in southern California.

‘Much like what we do with our self-driving Ubers in Pittsburgh and Phoenix, we are developing our self-driving truck product by deploying it to the Uber Freight network and fulfilling hauls for real customers,’ the company said.

Uber’s announcement comes as the market for self-driving trucks continues to heat up. 

Tesla and Waymo are among the other tech and auto industry companies pursuing autonomous trucking. 

Late last year, Elon Musk’s electric car company unveiled its all-electric Tesla Semi big rig. 

The Tesla Semi (pictured) can reach 60 miles an hour in five seconds if it is unloaded. That time jumps to 20 seconds if the truck is carrying its maximum weight, 80,000 pounds

The Tesla Semi (pictured) can reach 60 miles an hour in five seconds if it is unloaded. That time jumps to 20 seconds if the truck is carrying its maximum weight, 80,000 pounds

The Tesla Semi (pictured) can reach 60 miles an hour in five seconds if it is unloaded. That time jumps to 20 seconds if the truck is carrying its maximum weight, 80,000 pounds

It’s since been spotted performing test drives across the Bay Area in California.   

Package and shipping company UPS announced in December that it will buy 125 of Tesla’s all-electric semi trucks, the largest such order since the vehicle was unveiled a month earlier.

The order by UPS, one of the biggest operators of commercial trucking fleets, came on the heels of a PepsiCo announcement two weeks ago to buy 100 of the Tesla trucks.

Waymo also has plans to release a semi-autonomous truck, equipped with ultrasonic sensors and radar. 

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