Uber enters trucking via Otto acquisition, co.’s announce plans for freight matching system

| August 18, 2016

1-fzftNi3Hx_tkD1W2f77kMQTrucking tech startup Otto announced Aug. 18 it has been acquired by ride-sharing tech giant Uber. The two companies say they have plans for not only deploying an autonomous retrofit system on tractor-trailers, but also for bringing Uber-type technology to trucking to create a nationwide load-truck matching platform.

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Though the term “Uberize” has bounced around in trucking in recent years, this is the tech company’s first official foray into the trucking industry.

Otto was founded by former tech executives from major players like Google, Tesla and Apple, announcing in May its plans to develop a system that could convert traditional Class 8 trucks into self-driving vehicles.

Otto has launched an Android app to with the express intention of generating contact with both trucking and shipper communities in a freight marketplace. Find the app via this link. Downloading the app enables you simply to signal your interest and “join our early access program,” the company says. “Our technology will come to certain trucking corridors first, so sign up early to cast your vote on where we should go.”

Otto has launched an Android app as well as a website with the express intention of generating contact with both trucking and shipper communities in a freight marketplace. Downloading the “Otto Test Drive” app enables you simply to signal your interest and “join our early access program,” the company says. “Our technology will come to certain trucking corridors first, so sign up early to cast your vote on where we should go.”

The acquisition by Uber, however, paves the way for something more, Otto said in its Aug. 18 announcement. “By combining these two technologies, we can create a freight network that is constantly learning and improving. Each truck that joins the network can provide valuable information that makes all other trucks safer and more efficient. In turn, drivers get paid more and shippers get a more reliable service. Self-driving trucks together with a marketplace create a virtuous cycle where everyone benefits.”

Otto founder Lior Ron says the companies expect to develop an on-demand platform that matches drivers with loads and shippers with carriers. Self-driving trucks, Ron says, provide safety, predicability and the ability to keep the trucks on the road. The platform, he adds, is a way to help boost productivity, aid carriers in finding freight and improve efficiencies in the marketplace.

“The self-driving piece is something that can increase capacity over time,” Ron says. “We see the platform as a way to help drivers and fleets and owner ops to be more productive. We can use the know-how that Uber has on the passenger platform side and use that to evolve a similar solution on the commercial side.”

Note: Overdrive will continue to update this story throughout the day.

Don't call me Shirley, Otto

Don’t call me Shirley, Otto

Self-driving trucks? "My personal feeling is you 'Otto' run far and fast if you ever see one of these trucks on the road."

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