The future of long-haul autonomous trucking has arrived: Uber’s self-driving trucks are now delivering freight in Arizona.
Uber’s big push to dominate the trucking industry took a leap forward today with the announcement that the ride-hailing giant is now operating its fleet of self-driving trucks on its freight-hauling app. The shipments are taking place in Arizona, where the ride-hailing giant is also testing out its robot taxis. Uber said it is using a transfer hub model, in which the trucks drive autonomously on the highway and human drivers take over for the last miles.
Uber isn’t the only company using self-driving trucks to haul cargo. Embark has been shipping refrigerators between Southern California and Texas since late 2017. The startup just completed a coast-to-coast trip from LA to Jacksonville, Florida, driving 2,400 miles autonomously. Nor is Uber the only Silicon Valley company looking to grab a piece of the brokerage market. Seattle-based truck technology company Convoy has raised $62 million for its app that matches trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight.
As a standalone business, Uber’s trucking venture still faces significant headwinds. There are significant costs associated with owning and managing a fleet of trucks, not to mention outfitting each with an expensive array of off-the-shelf cameras and sensors. If it decides it would rather be a supplier, though, Uber will have to forge relationships with fleet operators who will be looking for significant savings before committing to any deal with a novice in the trucking world like Uber.
The link to the article came from reader David who mocked predictions made in comments to my self-driving articles.
"NOT FOR ANOTHER 20 years at the EARLIEST"
"Or, Right now," said David.
No Cost Savings, Yet
For now, no human hours are saved. In fact, it requires extra time for workers to unhook and rehook cargo. But that will quickly change.
Within two years I estimate there will be no backup drivers.
If so, my model for mass-elimination of long-haul drivers in a 2022-2024 timeframe is way out of date.
By the way, this is extremely deflationary. In general, technology is. And it is well beyond foolish for central banks to be fighting it.
BIS Deflation Study
The BIS did a historical study and found routine price deflation was not any problem at all.
“Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive,” stated the study.
For a discussion of the BIS study, please see Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They?
Central banks’ seriously misguided attempts to defeat routine consumer price deflation is what fuels the destructive asset bubbles that eventually collapse.
Debt Deflation Coming Up
Another debt-deflation bubble bursting episode is coming up.
All it takes is an economic slowdown or a change in attitudes of greater fools willing to chase the market higher and higher.
MIke "Mish" Shedlock