Uber Freight and Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) on Wednesday announced a multi-phase commercial and technology partnership to deploy Volvo’s autonomous transport solution on the Uber Freight network. Uber Freight will be one of V.A.S.’s first customers to pilot its hub-to-hub autonomous offering. As a part of the partnership, V.A.S. will offer autonomous freight capacity to Uber Freight shippers on select routes, starting in Texas.
“By integrating our autonomous transport solution with Uber Freight’s expansive network, we are offering shippers the possibility to move goods more efficiently while addressing some of the biggest challenges of the industry—transit times, empty miles and a shortage of drivers,” said Volvo Autonomous Solutions President Nils Jaeger.
V.A.S. is also working with autonomous truck tech company Aurora to develop and scale an autonomous transport solution with the Aurora Driver. The two companies debuted the first autonomous VNL prototype in September 2021.
Uber Freight and V.A.S. envision a hybrid future where autonomous and manually-driven trucks work together to move goods safely and efficiently using a hub-to-hub model. Under this model, autonomous trucks will take on the long-haul portion of the transport mission while manually driven trucks complete local operations. Hub-to-hub will also ease some of the burden of increasing demand for freight while enabling drivers to shift into short-haul jobs closer to home, enhancing the truckers’ quality of life and ultimately creating value for everyone in the supply chain.
Integrating its autonomous transport solution with Uber Freight’s marketplace, Sasko Cuklev, Volvo Autonomous Solutions head of on-road solutions said, gives the company an opportunity to learn about customer needs and build a solution that benefits the entire industry. “And do this at a time when the industry face unprecedented challenges and needs it the most,” he said.
The partnership with V.A.S. initiates Uber Freight’s first commercial collaboration with an autonomous fleet. As Uber Freight continues to deepen its work with Driver-as-a-Service technology providers like Aurora and Waymo and with OEMs and Transportation-as-a-Service providers like V.A.S., Uber Freight hopes to emerge as the network of choice to make the commercialization of autonomous transportation a reality.
Aurora and Waymo are AV technology developers who in the near-term are running pilots on the Uber Freight platform – business models that offer the self-driving technology stack that allow a truck to drive autonomously. V.A.S. is a near-term and long-term autonomous capacity provider. V.A.S. owns and operates the trucks to haul loads and offers transportation and autonomous capacity to shippers’ supply chains. In essence, Uber Freight said Aurora and Waymo will be pure technology, Driver-as-a-Service in the long-term, whereas V.A.S. will be Transportation-as-a-Service in the long-term. Uber Freight plans to continue to expand the selection of autonomous fleets on its platform with whom shippers can directly choose to book transportation within the next few years.
Earlier this month, Uber Freight and Aurora expanded their autonomous pilot with a new commercial lane between Fort Worth and El Paso. The 600-mile lane across Texas launched in October and is supporting Uber Freight customers as they prepare for the 2022 holiday season.