On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Otto, the self-driving truck startup that Uber Technologies Inc. acquired back in August for $680 million, is planning to offer freight services, bound for stores and warehouses, using autonomous trucks some time in 2017, in an interview with co-founder Lior Ron.
When bought, Otto was a 90-person company that specialized in self-driving trucks, and its expertise let existing trucks be outfitted with self-driving technology that could handle driving on highways in the United States. Its engineers have worked at Tesla Motors (TSLA - Analyst Report) , Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) , and Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL - Analyst Report) Google division.
With Otto’s impressive background, Uber is bound to be a top player in the self-driving car industry. The company’s other co-founder, Anthony Levandowski, will now lead Uber into this burgeoning market.
“Uber aims to ultimately transform the competitive and fragmented $700 billion-a-year trucking industry, which is notorious for low margins,” according to Reuters, but there is a heavy dose of skepticism surrounding Uber’s latest venture—as there should be—since the ride-hailing giant has little experience in long-haul trucking.
But for now, Otto aims to expand its current fleet of trucks from six to roughly 15, all while creating new, potential relationships with independent truckers, said Mr. Ron. "We are talking with everyone," he said. "We don't want to develop technology just for the sake of technology."
If interested in more information on the booming self-driving car industry, and Uber’s role in it, check out these Zacks articles: “Your Ultimate Guide to the Self-Driving Car Market” and “Forget Lawsuits, Uber Drivers’ Days are Numbered.”
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