Uber’s New App Transforming Trucking
A revolution in logistics for drivers and businesses
If it involves getting something from A to B, you can be sure that Uber will want a slice of the pie. Founded in 2009, the company has grown relentlessly from a modest taxi hailing app into a transportation giant. Uber now has a helicopter service, a food delivery service and is currently working on autonomous vehicles. As if that wasn’t enough already, Uber has been gradually honing in on freight. Their ambitions in the trucking industry were made publicly clear in 2015 when they bought startup Otto for a whopping $680 million. Their latest move has been to release an app that pairs trucking companies and independent operators with loads that need to be moved. So, how does the app work, and how could on demand freight hauling transform trucking?
On demand freight hauling
Last year, over $300 million had already been invested in disruptive trucking startups. Even so, there’s still work to be done in the infamous legacy sector, and Uber is rising to the challenge. Uber Freight looks almost exactly like the standard Uber taxi app, however it matches approved drivers with shipments instead of people. Users can browse nearby loads and find out all of the information they need to carry out the job, including location and product data. Getting hold of this info is notoriously difficult and time consuming, often leading to long trips that are not cost effective. Talking of speed, another serious problem that Uber Freight could address is the time it takes for truckers to receive payment. At the moment, it can take over a month for drivers to get paid. Uber Freight revolutionises this process by cutting payment time to no more than seven days. This might be great news for drivers and cleans up the entire payment system itself. The service could also help to keep tabs on which driver or company is taking what, therefore avoiding clashes.
How will Uber’s on demand trucking app disrupt the industry?
Uber Freight isn’t going to kill trucking. In fact, their nifty little app could be the remedy for numerous long standing afflictions. Faster allocation, relevant information display and quicker delivery times are just a few of the benefits. A simple mobile app isn’t something legacy companies will have to abandon their existing systems for, either. But whilst the service will streamline the industry, it’s a bittersweet reminder that transportation companies are readying themselves for autonomous technology. Coupled with Uber’s impressive datasets, Uber Freight will add to the software embedded in self driving trucks. The app may be improving the situation right now, but it’s clearly a step towards automating traditional truckers. This will impact around 1.7 million employees in the US alone. It’s a case of when rather than if, as Otto made its first autonomous, 120 mile delivery journey last year. There’s also uncertainty over how much Uber will actually pay truckers, especially in light of previous debate over taxi driver’s wages. Outside of transportation, streamlined freight hauling will have a knock on effect in any sector that ships or receives products in bulk. The bigger question is what Uber has planned for the future. CEO Travis Kalanick has always referred to the firm as a logistics company, and now the scene is set for their expansion in this role.
Uber Freight’s on demand service might not kill off trucking, but it will bring much needed disruption to the industry. Digitalising the initial decision making process will make it easier for truckers to locate loads, which will improve overall efficiency. Not only does the app make it easier for truckers to carry out jobs, but it enables faster payments. Every party involved in freight is therefore more informed, benefitting the suppliers and recipients of the various loads making their way across the globe. In the long term, though, Uber Freight will contribute to the process of mass automation in transportation. In short, this is yet another example of change which has huge implications outside of the industry itself. And who better right now to put it into action?
Could changes to the trucking industry disrupt your business or industry? Is Uber gearing up to become a logistical powerhouse? Will truckers and trucking companies readily adopt the app? Comment below with your thoughts and opinions.