These days, it seems you cannot have a discussion about changes in the trucking industry without someone bringing up Uber Technologies. The company that helped pave the way for the ride sharing industry set its sights on carving out its own place in the $700 billion trucking industry. However, Uber is now experiencing some setbacks in securing their place as an industry disruptor, on multiple fronts.
When Uber Freight was announced, the project was supposed to mark a big change in the trucking industry. Customers could find drivers for their deliveries, and truckers could make easy money by picking up shipments wherever they were located. This was supposed to be a win-win for all involved. The system was supposed to match drivers to cargo, but quickly started to resemble every other company trying to do the same thing, right down to the call center. As of right now, most truckers have yet to try the service. Many have even likened Uber Freight to having “yet another broker” to deal with, instead of placing more money in the hands of driver across the United States.
Uber also wanted to get an edge on automated vehicles for the trucking industry, competing with big players like Google, Otto, Mercedes, and more. Unfortunately for the robust start up, one of the key players they bought out to the tune of $680 million now has Uber in the hot seat. The main purpose of the buy out was to gain key technologies related to self-driving vehicles. Since then, it has come to light that those technological secrets may have been stolen directly from Google, which has resulted in some sticky legal situations. Combine that with conflagrations at the top of the food chain, and it seems like Uber is currently in a holding pattern, along with the other companies trying to make inroads into the trucking industry.
What Does The Future Hold For Uber?
The trucking industry is populated by people who have deep roots in the business, sometimes going back multiple generations. Between legislation, technology, adapting to new methods, and increased costs in shipping, it is getting tougher for outsiders to make headway into the low-margin trucking industry. Time will tell if Uber, Google, or any other others are able to carry out the automated vehicle or freight matching revolution with any success. Until then, we’ll all just have to keep on driving.