March 6, 2018 / 6:02 PM / a year ago

Uber's self-driving trucks haul cargo on Arizona highways

FILE PHOTO - A partially self driving Uber semi truck at the Mcity autonomous vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor Michigan, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joseph White

(Reuters) - Uber’s [UBER.UL] self-driving trucks have been hauling cargo on Arizona highways, the U.S. ride-hailing firm said on Tuesday, laying out plans for autonomous vehicles to work with truck drivers to move freight around the country.

Uber’s trucks are being operated through “Uber Freight,” a shipping-on-demand app.

In a YouTube clip released Tuesday, Uber said it would integrate manual trucking with self-driving trucks by deploying the former for short hauls and the latter for longer distances.

Self-driving trucks will also require the “hands-on work that only truckers can do,” the video added.

In October 2016, Uber demonstrated the first real-world commercial use for self-driving trucks, announcing it had transported Budweiser beer cans over 120 highway miles.

Uber’s involvement in trucking stems largely from its 2016 acquisition of Otto, the self-driving vehicle firm that was at the center of a high-profile legal battle between Uber and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) autonomous driving unit Waymo.

Uber is competing in the self-driving vehicle market with Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) other Silicon Valley firms as well as traditional automakers including General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N), which are racing to bring fully commercial self-driving vehicles on the road.

Transportation experts have predicted that the earliest applications of autonomous driving technology will be in trucks, thanks to the relative predictability of long hauls on highways compared with busy city streets.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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