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Future of Autonomous Trucking

August 4, 2022

On the back of these partnerships, Uber Freight is unveiling a road map for the practical deployment of this vision, as well as detailed research exploring the impact autonomous trucks will have on truck driver jobs, operating costs, and the movement of goods overall.

Among the key findings of the research are:

The hub-to-hub model represents a practical starting point for the accelerated deployment of autonomous trucks
  • For the foreseeable future, most autonomous trucks will operate under a hub-to-hub model, where human drivers handle the trip ends, which involve complex urban streets, and autonomous trucks will service the middle on highways.
  • Using a nationwide freight model, we find that the hub-to-hub model presents a sizable opportunity, with an immediate addressable market of 25 billion miles of long-distance dry van freight on the interstate system.

The hub-to-hub model is also economically feasible, especially for long hauls
  • Feasibility improves with longer hauls, where the fraction of cost associated with the first and last miles is smaller.
  • By analyzing historical carrier pricing data, we find that this model is feasible to all stakeholders on 80% of lanes if AV carriers can achieve a middle-mile cost of $1 per mile, and on 40% of lanes with a middle-mile cost of $2 per mile.1

AV - First and Last Mile

Cost of the first and last mile (in gray) and the break-even revenue (in green) using the hub-to-hub model. We assume a $76 reduction in the cost of local hauls because of time savings resulting from drop-and-hook operations.
Autonomous trucks within a hybrid network will fill trucking employment gaps, rather than replace human drivers. They will provide capacity where it is needed most: in long-distance trucking
  • Using a nationwide model of interstate freight movements, we estimate that 180,000 drivers will be needed to cover 18 billion miles of dry van freight by 2050.
  • Autonomous trucks on the long-haul middle mile would enable humans to shift to local hauls, boosting demand for skilled drivers in the local sector. Drivers will have more control over their work and be able to stay closer to home.
  • Deployment will expand incrementally along strategic corridors in the US, starting with states where weather and regulations are favorable.

 
Growth in various trucking sectors

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