Uber: Our self-driving semi trucks are already on the road in Arizona

Remember how Uber bought up that self-driving semi tech company called Otto? The technology driving the trucks was one of many elements in the Waymo-Uber court battle, but while we were all distracted by the ongoing lawyering, Otto – now Uber Freight - was actually out making deliveries in Arizona using real self-driving semi trucks.

As Uber Freight explains it, actual truck drivers pick up the loads like normal, but then hand it off to a self-driving truck for the “long-haul” part of the trip. There’s still a driver in the self-driving truck at this point, but as the semi is going down the open road, he – or she - is mostly just along for the ride. Near the end of the journey, another human trucker picks up the load for the more technical delivery part of the trip.

Uber says this “hand-off” system will eventually be common, and will retain the need for truck drivers, while improving efficiency, safety and speeding up shipments – because robot drivers don’t need to sleep. They’ve also shrunk the tech need to drive the truck down to a smaller package as well. This system makes good sense, actually. It lessens the stress on long-haul drivers, and would seem to increase safety.

For now, there will always be a driver on board, but in the future, Uber thinks that the “long haul” part of the delivery could be done without a human minder, with truckers completing the loading and unloading parts of the cycle, which would give them more time to be at home – something any trucker will tell you is the one thing they miss most while out on the road. Story: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/uber-self-driving-trucks-delivering-freight/

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(Source: Digital Trends, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2dGxiZutxc)