Skip to Content

Uber Freight Will Bring Surge Pricing to the Trucking Business

With the quiet launch of Uber Freight, the ride-sharing giant takes aim at disrupting the massive industry of hauling stuff by 18-wheeler.
October 26, 2016

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.

(Read more: Business Insider, “My Self-Driving Uber Needed Human Help,” “Otto’s Self-Driving 18-Wheeler Has Made Its First Delivery”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.