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Uber Freight and Aurora expand pilot in Texas with Veritiv

December 2, 2022 / US
Uber Freight and Aurora expand pilot in Texas with Veritiv

Today, Uber Freight and Aurora are deepening their existing partnership by autonomously hauling freight between Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso for packaging solutions distributor, Veritiv, through and beyond the 2022 holiday season.

This collaboration brings together the power of Aurora Horizon, Aurora’s autonomous trucking service, with the scale of Uber Freight’s logistics network to unlock autonomous volume for carriers and provide a unique and optimal environment for customers like Veritiv to deliver goods efficiently and reliably in any market condition.

“Veritiv’s next-generation supply chain strategy is to create and sustain a competitive advantage in operations with innovative and efficient technologies,” said Mike Walkenhorst, Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Developing Businesses for Veritiv. “This autonomous vehicle pilot aligns with our strategy to assess new technologies to determine the best fit for our business and our customers. We are proud to be at the forefront of testing this technology.” 

In the pilot, packaging products and goods are autonomously driven to Veritiv warehouses and retail, education, and healthcare customers, and they complete their journey via human drivers who handle the first and final leg of customer deliveries across western Texas and New Mexico. These packages are autonomously transported more than 600 miles between Aurora’s terminals with on time delivery, which is critical during the holiday season.

The three companies will closely monitor and examine data on delivery efficiency, transit times, operations at the transfer hubs, autonomous capabilities and performance, and customer satisfaction. These data points are instrumental in creating a blueprint for how autonomous trucks will be seamlessly integrated and safely deployed and scaled across the Uber Freight network in the coming years.

“Our extensive and efficient digital marketplace is a key ingredient for autonomous freight deployment,” said Lior Ron, CEO of Uber Freight. “As the preferred marketplace for autonomous trucks, we are incredibly excited to partner with these two companies laser-focused on paving the way for a hybrid network, together. It’s an honor to get in the trenches with Veritiv’s commitment to next-generation supply chains and Aurora’s best-in-class innovation to better understand how autonomous freight can and will safely become a reality.”

Uber Freight’s multiphase commercial autonomous trucking pilot began in December 2021 to better understand how the Aurora Driver will help carriers maximize fleet utilization, broaden opportunities to safely haul goods, and streamline supply operations. The pilot continues to grow, with autonomous loads more than doubling over the past year. This latest expansion in Texas now unlocks a longer lane for further autonomous trucking testing and insights across different operating models, which Aurora will incorporate into its subscription service for carriers

“The holidays are a challenging time for the logistics industry. We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply chain pressures that typically accompany them,” said Sterling Anderson, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Aurora. “Deploying our technology with the Uber Freight team over this 600-mile trip at the peak of the season is an outgrowth of our mutual commitment to ensure that Aurora Horizon can enable carriers of all sizes to safely and efficiently haul freight 24/7/365 on the Uber Freight network.”

These autonomous assets are deployed alongside human drivers in a hybrid model, with self-driving trucks handling the long-haul middle mile and local carriers from the Uber Freight platform on the shorter first-and last-mile hauls, empowering them to stay closer to home. Uber Freight’s extensive carrier network allows us to quickly recover loads, maintain reliability for shippers at transfer hub terminals under any circumstances — from unforeseen tractor weight restrictions to inclement weather — and continue boosting demand for skilled human drivers.

Uber Freight offers shippers a unique, market-first combination of network scale, marketplace innovation, autonomous technology, and managed transportation expertise. Deploying autonomous capacity ahead of the busy holiday season was especially helpful for experiencing how these autonomous assets can fit into customers’ networks, smooth out seasonality, and provide value during periods of volatile demand — helping businesses of all sizes move loads anywhere, any time.

In preparation for an AV future, we leverage automation and build tools to enhance the human interactions of logistics, such as dividing loads between multiple carriers, standardizing inspections processes, and streamlining hand-offs between human drivers and AVs at terminals. We are excited to continue innovating and expanding our autonomous pilot programs in 2023, enabling more shippers to begin moving freight with autonomous trucks in the American Southwest and beyond as this technology further integrates into carriers’ operations. Reach out to your Uber Freight sales representatives today to learn more.

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