Quick Bit: Uber has reportedly signed a deal with Google’s self-driving car company Waymo to launch an autonomous long-haul trucking project.
Engadget reports that ride-sharing company Uber has signed a long-term partnership with Google’s Waymo to develop a long-haul autonomous trucking division. The move will combine Waymo’s self-driving tech with Uber Freight’s network in an effort to help customers deploy self-driving trucks more efficiently.
Customers that purchase trucks fitted with the Waymo Driver system will be able to use Uber Freight’s marketplace technology allowing them to deploy vehicles on Uber’s network for deliveries. Uber Freight is much like the regular Uber app but is designed for shippers and helps them find truck drivers for on-demand deliveries.
Waymo Via — Google’s trucking division — aims to increase the capacity of Uber Freight’s driverless delivery network and will make mileage available “when shippers need it most.” The companies plan to trial the integration on Waymo Via’s test fleet. The companies believe that the move to autonomous trucks for long-haul deliveries will allow drivers to move into short-haul jobs.
This is a harsh change from Uber and Waymo’s previous relationship. In 2017, Alphabet, Waymo and Google’s parent company, sued Uber claiming that the company purchased trade secrets from former employees. In 2016, Uber purchased the self-driving truck startup Otto, which was founded by a number of former Alphabet employees.
One of those employees was engineer Anthony Levandowski, who Alphabet accused of downloading more than “14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems” shortly before quitting his job at the company. Levandowski received an 18-month prison sentence in 2020 but was pardoned the following January by former president Donald Trump. The issue was settled in 2018.
Read more at Engadget here.
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