Online trucking broker Uber Freight is expanding a commercial autonomous trucking pilot program by deepening its links with Aurora Innovation, a California-based provider of self-driving truck technology, the firms said today.
The move launched in October and creates a 600-mile commercial lane across western Texas and New Mexico. Under the arrangement, the tech firm’s Aurora Horizon service covers the long-haul, middle miles of each leg with autonomous vehicles based on PACCAR’s Peterbilt 579M, handing over the wheel to human drivers to handle the first and last legs.
The trucks shuttle between Aurora’s terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso, Texas, hauling goods for Veritiv Corp., an Uber Freight customer that distributes customized packaging solutions across North America.
The move is similar to a route that Aurora runs with its autonomous trucks in the same region for FedEx, hauling packages for the parcel delivery giant.
According to Aurora, the timing of the expanded Uber Freight route serves to help shippers prepare for the 2022 holiday season and provides a “stress test” during trucking’s peak season, showing that the new network can help avoid common problems like delays, errors, higher pricing, and low product inventory. That approach is designed to offer carriers a reliable supply of “drivers” in one of the busiest times of the year, allowing human drivers to opt for short-haul trips and stay closer to home, Aurora said.
As the pilot continues, the three companies will monitor data on delivery efficiency, transit times, operations at the transfer hubs, autonomous capabilities and performance, and customer satisfaction.
“Our extensive and efficient digital marketplace is a key ingredient for autonomous freight deployment,” Lior Ron, CEO of Uber Freight, said in a release. “As the preferred marketplace for autonomous trucks, we are incredibly excited to partner with these two companies laser-focused on paving the way for a hybrid network, together. It’s an honor to get in the trenches with Veritiv’s commitment to next-generation supply chains and Aurora’s best-in-class innovation to better understand how autonomous freight can and will become a reality.”
Today, we’re deepening our partnership with @aurora_inno by autonomously hauling freight between Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso for packaging solutions distributor, @Veritiv, through and beyond the 2022 holiday season. Read more here: https://t.co/7UMJa1PU7I pic.twitter.com/9hKhPMuflS— Uber Freight (@UberFreight) December 2, 2022