Uber to develop technology to connect truckers and carriers

Uber already upended the taxi industry with its app that links passengers who need a ride to drivers willing to give one. Now, the company wants to do the same thing to freight brokers by developing technology that can more efficiently connect truckers to freight that needs to be moved, reported Reuters.

Uber first got its foot in the trucking industry last month when it acquired Otto, a small self-driving truck startup that launched in January. Recently, the company hired Bill Driegert, co-founder and former CIO of the leading freight broker Coyote Logistics.

While Otto's vehicles are currently controlled by a driver and engineer, the company maintains its initial goal of developing self-driving technology. In the mean time, Uber and Otto plan to develop a freight network to connect shippers and carriers, along with additional technologies surrounding navigation, mapping and tracking.

"In Uber, you press a button and an Uber shows up after three minutes," said Otto cofounder Lior Ron. "In freight ... the golden standard is that it takes [the broker] five hours of phone calls to find your truck. That's how efficient the industry is today."

The new technology could help lower carrier costs by finding freight quicker, mapping more efficient routes and reducing fuel consumption, according to the report.

However, some executives from well-established logistics companies question Uber's attempt to transform the $700 billion-a-year trucking industry that's known for its notoriously low margins.

"The transportation industry is a relationship-backed business," said Kevin Abbott, a vice president at C.H. Robinson. "There's a lot more to it than just finding a piece of equipment."

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