The supply chain industry is digesting news that Uber, the giant ride-hailing phenomenon, will shortly debut a trucking business. The company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, posted a photo over the weekend of a truck emblazoned with the logo Uber Freight on its side.
Last year, Uber bought Otto, a self-driving truck start-up, for $680m. It has since been ensnared in a legal battle with Google over patents for self-driving vehicles. However, Kalanick’s Twitter post is his biggest hint yet that Uber is ready to enter the trucking business.
The Uber development follows on from February’s news that German logistics giant DB Schenker had bought a $25m stake in Texas-based uShip, an online platform that links shippers with truckers.
Commenting on Uber’s news, Kate Adamson, the founder of Futurenautics, provided some background as well as the bigger picture for shipping lines, telling Splash today: “A picture of a truck with something written on the side has given this story a boost, but the substantive facts haven’t changed. Uber Freight was originally an app which connected shipper with truck, but Uber spent $650m buying Otto, the self-driving truck start-up in 2016, and its self-driving trucks made their first deliveries late last year in the US.
“What’s important,” she continued, “is how this illustrates the blurring of previously distinct markets. This isn’t a trucking company, it’s an intelligent mobility company, and in the same way that autonomy could solve Uber’s billions-bleeding bottom-line in its taxi business, autonomy could also give it an advantage in trucking. The same applies to any kind of transportation business, which is why autonomy is so crucial to shipping.”
Adamson told delegates attending the Maritime CEO Forum held in Singapore last month that they needed to look to non-traditional competitors, but more importantly, to non-traditional partners, to take shipping forwards.
— travis kalanick (@travisk) May 8, 2017