By Jonathan Dyble
Having successfully tested the self-driving technology within its trucks, Uber has announced that its self-driving trucks are now successfully operating, delivering commercial freight across Arizona.
Having scaled up the full launch of its autonomous freight trucks for some time, the company said Tuesday that it would now begin to operate them across the state, serving multiple customers.
The vehicles are still manned by an experienced human driver, however, all the driving is done by the semi-trucks themselves, with the truckers only being required to complete the transfer of the goods and the loading at either end, as show in Uber’s own video above.
Alden Woodrow, the Product Lead for Uber’s Self-Driving Trucks unit, revealed in a conference call that the vehicles are currently only operating on highways, not yet capable of navigating highlight populated and windy city streets.
“We’ve been really hard at work the past several months improving the technology,” said Alden Woodrow, according to CNET. “We’re building something that solves problems in the industry… and also makes truck drivers’ lives easier and better.”
There has been significant skepticism that autonomous vehicles may pose a significant threat to jobs, however, Uber plans for its technology to make the lives of these workers easier as opposed to replacing them.
“Long-haul commercial trucks are responsible for delivering nearly 70% of goods in America, yet the highways they’re driving on see hundreds of thousands of preventable accidents each year,” Uber’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) says.
“Uber ATG is committed to creating a new approach to modern transportation—and a large part of that effort is the development of self-driving technology to improve the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry.”
However, regardless of the motive, such an announcement is both revolutionary for the long-haul freight industry and a significant milestone in the global deployment of self-driving vehicles.