In the press release announcing the purchase, Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber wrote about how “over one million people die on the world’s roads every year and 90 percent of these accidents are due to human error.” With self-driving technology in both cars and trucks, Kalanick believes that those numbers would go way down.
While not explicitly stated in Kalanick’s press release, the acquisition of Otto gives Uber a very clear path toward branching out into on-demand freight with (eventually) driverless trucks. Bloomberg (external - login to view) reports that the company has told them they plan to start breaking into long haul trucking in the US.
They are already set to experiment with driverless Uber cars in Pittsburgh starting next month.
To begin with, the “driverless” Ubers will have drivers sitting at the wheel and a specially trained ‘co-pilot’ to ensure safety during the testing phase. As Bloomberg states however, the end goal will be very different. “The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.”
By the time that happens, Uber freight may be just a phone tap away.