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Logistics specialist Uber Freight partners with Waabi Innovation Inc. in AI-powered autonomous truck partnershipthe companies announced on September 21.
This agreement is the latest in a series of autonomous trucking joint ventures for Uber Freightwhich agreements previously signed with Aurora Innovation Inc. and Waymo via.
The core technology of Toronto-based Waabi — Waabi Driver — will be combined with Uber Freight’s logistics platform and marketplace technology to provide a turnkey driver-as-a-service solution, the companies said.
Waabi Driver compatible trucks have already been deployed on the Uber Freight network. The partnership’s first commercial loads hit the road between Dallas and Houston earlier this week, the partners said. These first runs will be followed by regular loadings, they added.
Later, business operations will expand to other key lanes in Texas and beyond, an expansion the partners said would happen quickly.
“Uber Freight has the large-scale freight network and market expertise to effectively and safely deploy our AI-based autonomous driving technology at scale,” said Waabi CEO. Raquel Urtasun.
“This exciting partnership allows us to bring Waabi’s groundbreaking innovation in generative AI to the forefront of our extensive freight network, providing our shippers and carriers nationwide with the tools needed to adopt autonomous technology and transform their operations safely and efficiently,” said Lior RonCEO of Uber Freight.
The Waabi deal is the latest in a series of autonomous trucking partnerships for the Uber Technologies Inc unit.
In December 2022, Uber Freight and Aurora Innovation Inc. extended an existing partnership. The two companies partnered in Texas to move freight between Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso for packaging solutions distributor Veritiv Corp.
Earlier in 2022, Uber Freight and Waymo Via unveiled a strategic partnership. The companies announced in June 2022 their intention to integrate their products and collaborate on the development of tools and infrastructure.
However, in July, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit said it was slowing development of autonomous trucking at the Via unit. The company intends to focus more on ride-hailing services, she said, although some are working with Daimler Truck North America would continue.
Uber Technologies ended its own autonomous truck development work when it sold its Advanced Technologies Group to Aurora in early 2021. A few years earlier, Uber ATG acquired autonomous truck startup Otto in 2016.
Aurora said in July that a new round of funding of up to $820 million would mean it would have enough cash to launch its self-driving trucks in 2024.
The Waabi deal isn’t Uber Freight’s only AI partnership in recent weeks. In August, the company announced a deal with insurance software company Redkik, whose InsurTech software will be integrated into Uber Freight’s Shipper platform. Insurance coverage will be available at the time of booking a shipment for transportation, they said.
Uber Freight, launched in 2017, is a growing force in the logistics industry.
In 2021, the the company acquired Transplace, then owned by private equity firm TPG Capital, for $2.25 billion. The deal included up to $750 million in common stock of Uber Freight’s parent company.
Transplace ranked 13th on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of largest logistics companies in North America at the time, while Uber Freight was ranked 41st. Uber Freight now ranks #9 in the TT Top 100 for logistics companies.