Uber Freight has announced it has expanded its partnership with Aurora Innovation and has launched a new commercial lane for its autonomous trucks between Fort Worth, Tex. and El Paso, Tex. The new 600-mile line, which has been in use since October, was added to help Uber Freight's customers prepare for the holiday season.
Uber Freight, which is the trucking subsidiary of Uber Technologies, said that delays and errors increase during this time of the year. Demand is so high that Uber and Aurora estimated that during peak season more than 1 billion packages are shipped in the U.S.
To help address concerns and meet customer demand, San Francisco-based Uber Freight is taking advantage of Auroa’s autonomous trucking service, Aurora Horizon, and is doing weekly deliveries of consumer and wholesale goods throughout the state. Uber Freight’s trucks are based on the PACCAR Peterbilt 579M.
Pittsburgh-based Aurora said its autonomous technology is being developed to offer carriers a reliable supply of “drivers.” The company said testing and validating the technology during such a busy time of year “highlights its potential to respond quickly as demand rises and supply chain needs fluctuate.”
Aurora added the service also has safety benefits since the holiday season is often considered to be a dangerous time to be on the road.
“The holidays are a challenging time for the logistics industry. We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply chain pressures that typically accompany them,” said Sterling Anderson, chief product officer and co-founder of Aurora.
“Deploying our technology with the Uber Freight team over this 600-mile trip at the peak of the season is an outgrowth of our mutual commitment to ensure that Aurora Horizon can enable carriers of all sizes to safely and efficiently haul freight 24/7/365 on the Uber Freight network,” Anderson added.
A customer story
Veritiv Corp, a distributor of customized packaging solutions in North America, was given early access to the route, according to Uber Freight. The Atlanta-based company has been using the line to transport goods to customers in the retail, education, and healthcare industries.
“The packages, which are hauled over 600 miles between Aurora’s terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso, complete their journey via human drivers who handle the first and final leg of customer deliveries across western Texas and New Mexico,” the company said.
“Veritiv’s next-generation supply chain strategy is to create and sustain a competitive advantage in operations with innovative and efficient technologies,” said Mike Walkenhorst, senior vice president of global operations and developing businesses for Veritiv. “This autonomous vehicle pilot aligns with our strategy to assess new technologies to determine the best fit for our business and our customers. We are proud to be at the forefront of testing this technology.”
Uber Freight to use Aurora’s service across platform
Aurora said it will use the information it learns through this pilot to improve the Horizon service for carriers and private fleets. Over the coming years, Uber Freight said it will deploy Aurora’s software across its platform.
“Our extensive and efficient digital marketplace is a key ingredient for autonomous freight deployment,” said Lior Ron, CEO of Uber Freight. “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 safely become a reality,” he added.
The news comes several months after Uber announced it was partnering with Motional as part of a 10-year deal to offer fully driverless rides using Motional’s new robotaxis.