Stress test during trucking’s peak season underscores the value autonomous solutions can bring to carriers of every size on the Uber Freight network
DALLAS – Uber Freight, a leading logistics platform and partner for shippers and carriers, and Aurora Innovation, a leading autonomous vehicle company, have announced the expansion of their autonomous pilot with a new commercial lane between Fort Worth and El Paso. The 600-mile lane across Texas launched in October and is supporting Uber Freight customers as they prepare for the 2022 holiday season.
As online shopping increasingly becomes the status quo around the holidays, so has the potential for delays, errors, higher pricing, and low product inventory. During peak season, it’s expected that approximately 1 billion packages will be shipped within the U.S. alone. To help Uber Freight customers meet demand, Aurora’s autonomous trucking service, Aurora Horizon, is making weekly hauls of consumer and wholesale goods across the state with its latest generation of trucks, based on PACCAR’s Peterbilt 579M.
“The holidays are a challenging time for the logistics industry. We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply chain pressures that typically accompany them,” said Sterling Anderson, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Aurora. “Deploying our technology with the Uber Freight team over this 600-mile trip at the peak of the season is an outgrowth of our mutual commitment to ensure that Aurora Horizon can enable carriers of all sizes to safely and efficiently haul freight 24/7/365 on the Uber Freight network.”
Veritiv Corp., a Fortune 500® company, is a leading distributor of customized packaging solutions across North America. As an Uber Freight customer, Veritiv has benefited from early access to the route, using Aurora Horizon to autonomously transport goods on time to retail, education, and healthcare customers. The packages, which are hauled over 600 miles between Aurora’s terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso, complete their journey via human drivers who handle the first and final leg of customer deliveries across western Texas and New Mexico.
“Veritiv’s next-generation supply chain strategy is to create and sustain a competitive advantage in operations with innovative and efficient technologies,” said Mike Walkenhorst, Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Developing Businesses for Veritiv. “This autonomous vehicle pilot aligns with our strategy to assess new technologies to determine the best fit for our business and our customers. We are proud to be at the forefront of testing this technology.”
Unlocking autonomous truck capacity for all carriers on the Uber Freight network
Aurora’s autonomous technology is being developed to offer carriers a reliable supply of “drivers.” Testing and validating it during one of the busiest times of the year highlights its potential to respond quickly as demand rises and supply chain needs fluctuate. Autonomous trucks can also help alleviate what is often considered one of the least safe times to travel each year according to a report from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), allowing human drivers to opt for short-haul trips and stay closer to home.
“Our extensive and efficient digital marketplace is a key ingredient for autonomous freight deployment,” said Lior Ron, CEO of Uber Freight. “As the preferred marketplace for autonomous trucks, we are incredibly excited to partner with these two companies laser-focused on paving the way for a hybrid network, together. It’s an honor to get in the trenches with Veritiv’s commitment to next-generation supply chains and Aurora’s best-in-class innovation to better understand how autonomous freight can and will safely become a reality.”
As Aurora works with additional carriers on the Uber Freight network, the company will incorporate learnings from this pilot into its subscription service dedicated for carriers and private fleets. Aurora and Uber Freight aim to unlock autonomous truck capacity for carriers with Aurora Horizon, which will be deployed in the coming years and serve carriers across the Uber Freight platform.