Uber-Owned Otto Reaching Out to Trucking Industry
Company Hiring Key Industry Figure to Gain Credibility
Uber has been instrumental in making app-based ride hailing ubiquitous and widely used. And with the company’s recent acquisition of heavy-truck automation startup Otto, it appears its ambitions go well beyond ride hailing. Otto is planning to expand its test fleet of six semi-autonomous Class-8 trucks to 15 and is approaching partners in the truck freight industry to employ its technology. While full automation of Class-8 trucks is probably many years (if not decades) off, there are many areas in heavy trucking that are prime targets for disruption.
Much like Uber has used its geolocation and real-time data technology to enable and facilitate efficient ride-hailing, one area of heavy trucking ripe for disruption is freight brokering. Currently, most freight brokering is handled by a human broker that works the phones to match drivers and freight routes. With Uber’s logistics expertise and technology, that process could be automated to more quickly facilitate matching drivers and freight. According to the Reuters report, the average amount of time currently needed to broker a freight deal can be up to five hours.
However, Uber and Otto are not alone in developing more efficient freight brokering systems. Companies such as Transfix, Convoy, and Cargo Chief are also aiming to secure their place in the freight brokering space. Otto also recently hired Bill Driegert, a logistics specialist that helped found Coyote, a prominent freight broker, and served as its chief innovation officer.