TUCSON - From hauling people to hauling commercial goods, Uber is now using self-driving trucks on Arizona highways.
The autonomous trucks work in tandem with human-driven trucks to complete orders, utilizing transfer hubs as the point of transfer.
Bill Shader, lead instructor of the HDS driving institute, noted he’s impressed with the idea of autonomous trucks. He’s been driving the traditional way since the 1970s.
“Today’s technology is just like a runaway freight train. It’s working for us. It’s there,” Shader said.
The Uber Freight-serviced trucks still require a safety driver behind the wheel, which is reassuring for Shader.
“If that computer does down, that’s where that driver comes in and that driver is going to be key,” he said.
However, there’s still plenty that could go wrong.
“It’s a big truck so it can malfunction and go off the road,” said Tucsonan Vincent Trujilo.
“Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me,” said Tucson resident Cindy Gandy.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety released a statement:
“As a law enforcement agency, our number one priority is the safety and security of the citizens we serve. Consistent with all vehicles on the roadway, autonomous vehicles are expected to operate safely and obey all traffic laws. The Department of Public Safety continues to closely monitor the advancements in autonomous technology that aim to make roads safer for the motoring public by reducing collisions and saving lives.”
As for Shader, he doesn’t believe Uber poses a threat to the trucking business, at least for the time being.
"So the driving industry is still going to be there. We're still going to have to have a driver. Competition, I don't see it hurting anybody. I see it as good,” Shader said.
The self-driving technology with Uber dates back to 2016 when a truck shipped 2,000 cases of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.
To learn more about Uber Freight, click https://freight.uber.com/