Uber Freight and Waabi launched a commercial autonomous trucking pilot route in Texas last week, with plans to offer billions of miles in autonomous hauls with carrier partners over the next decade.
The logistics provider and AV tech startup inked a 10-year deal for trucks using the Waabi Driver generative AI technology to carry loads on Uber Freight’s network. The pilot route between Dallas and Houston is expected to “quickly expand to other key lanes in Texas and beyond,” according to Waabi.
“Uber Freight has the scaled freight network and marketplace expertise needed to efficiently and safely deploy our AI-powered autonomous driving technology at scale,” Waabi Founder and CEO Raquel Urtasun said in a statement. “The unique solution we are building together will empower carriers to dynamically and effectively deploy the Waabi Driver while also unlocking critical capacity for shippers and driving value throughout the supply chain.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Its goal is to enable carriers with Waabi Driver-equipped trucks to use Uber Freight network’s optimized routes, transfer hub infrastructure and other services, as well as give more shippers a way to explore autonomous trucking.
This isn’t Uber Freight’s first AV rodeo. The company debuted a Fort Worth-to-El Paso autonomous trucking pilot route last year, expanding a partnership with Aurora Innovation that began in 2021.
But Waabi says its AV truck tech is the first to be built around a foundation AI model, which can automatically learn from data and generalize its learnings to on-the-road situations, including those it has never seen before.
The AV startup, which launched in 2021, offers technology that is “more scalable, safer and flexible” than competitors’ “previous generation” systems, Urtasun told Trucking Dive last fall. The company seeks to eventually remove the safety driver and human engineer.
Uber Freight founder and CEO Lior Ron boasted in a statement the company’s work with Waabi will “usher in a new era for our industry.”
“This exciting partnership allows us to bring Waabi’s revolutionary generative AI innovation to the forefront of our vast freight network, providing our shippers and carriers nationwide with the tools needed to embrace autonomous technology and transform their operations safely and efficiently,” Ron said.
The deal also reunites Urtasun with her old employer. Before founding Waabi, the CEO worked for Uber for more than three years, leaving as chief scientist of the Uber ATG self-driving unit in 2021, according to LinkedIn. Uber sold the business to Aurora in 2020, TechCrunch reported.