A week after announcing an end to its self-driving truck development program, Uber said Tuesday the company is “doubling down” on its cargo-matching app Uber Freight.
Uber plans to spin Uber Freight off into its own business unit, and Otto co-founder Lior Ron will return to lead it. Uber bought Otto’s autonomous truck technologies in August 2016, but despite several high profile on-highway tests – including what is thought to be the first fully autonomous delivery of commercial freight – announced plans to close the program last week. Following the acquisition, Ron served as the head of Uber Freight before departing earlier this year.
Uber lauded Ron and his work for helping “lay the groundwork for the strong momentum we’re seeing today.”
An Uber spokesperson says that Uber Freight has become one of the company’s fastest-growing and most promising businesses over the past year, and the company plans to more than double its investment in the platform going forward. Since launching 15 months ago, Uber Freight has expanded from limited regional operations across three primary regions to now a nationwide reach, and the company says load volume is doubling every quarter.
“We started Uber Freight with a mission to support the many men and women across the country who work incredibly hard to keep the economy running and improve their daily lives,” Ron says. “I’m honored to be back working with [Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi] and the team to continue building and scaling a simple, fair and transparent marketplace everyone can participate in. We’ve created significant momentum over the past year, and we’re just getting started.”
Ron’s return to Uber comes after the company signed a deal this week to acquire Otto Trucking. When Uber acquired Ottomotto – the company that housed Otto’s self-driving truck tech – it didn’t include Otto Trucking, a holding company that includes autonomous and non-autonomous trucking technology and logistics tech that will now be folded in to Uber Freight.
Uber expects that deal to close soon.