Hardly a day goes by without a new headline from Uber. Today’s is a move that probably a lot of people have seen coming ever since Uber bought the self-driving-truck firm Otto: behold the soft launch of Uber Freight, a service that, Business Insider reports, aims to connect shippers and trucking companies in much the same way as the original Uber app connects riders and drivers.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been clear for a while now that his company is interested in getting into trucking. It makes sense—in the trucking industry, brokers usually help someone who wants to ship goods find a truck to do the hauling. Uber has risen to global prominence using almost exactly this model, acting as the middleman between people looking for a ride and drivers working on contract (though a few questionable business tactics and creative marketing strategies haven’t hurt either).
Still, Uber seems to be moving awfully fast—Otto only just made its first commercial delivery with a self-driving truck, and by all accounts it’s still very much a fledgling company. Trucking in the U.S., by contrast, is enormous: in 2014, 11 million large trucks drove over 279 billion miles.
Perhaps in acknowledgement that it’s going to be a while before self-driving trucks take to the roads en masse, Uber Freight won’t be billed as an autonomous-trucking service during its trial period or when it officially launches early next year. The company says it is happy to gradually phase Otto’s trucks in as they prove themselves ready. Until then, Uber Freight’s primary function will be as a “marketplace” that will bring Uber’s expertise in dynamic pricing to an industry it considers hidebound and inefficient.
In other words, if you’re in a line of work that relies on using trucks to move goods around, say hello to surge pricing.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
The Biggest Questions: What is death?
New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.
How to fix the internet
If we want online discourse to improve, we need to move beyond the big platforms.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.