Uber extends on-demand service to trucking

The logo of the ride sharing service Uber in front of its headquarters in San Francisco, California on Aug 25, 2016.
The logo of the ride sharing service Uber in front of its headquarters in San Francisco, California on Aug 25, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Uber is expanding into a new field with a version of its on-demand ride application that lets truckers book cargo hauls with simple taps on smartphones.

Uber Freight rolling out in the US was touted by the company as an app that matches truckers or trucking companies with loads, and streamlines payments.

"We take the guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver's day," Uber said in a blog post available online Friday (May 19).

"What used to take several hours and multiple phone calls can now be achieved with the touch of a button."

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Truckers signing onto the service are vetted, according to Uber, which did not provide details regarding checks done on those involved.

San Francisco-based Uber made no mention of its efforts in self-driving vehicles, particularly trucks for cargo or deliveries.

Uber acquired commercial transport-focused tech startup Otto late last year as the company pressed ahead with its pursuit of self-driving technology.

Google parent Alphabet in February filed a lawsuit accusing Uber and its self-driving vehicle unit Otto of stealing technology from Waymo, the former Google car division.

The suit contends that Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski took technical data with him when he left to launch a competing venture that went on to become Otto.

Levandowski, a co-founder of 90-person startup Otto, was put in charge of Uber's efforts to develop self-driving technology for personal driving, delivery and trucking.

The case is making its way through the court, but a partial injunction issued by a US district court judge ordered Uber to do everything in its power to prevent information taken from Waymo from being used at the on-demand ride company and to return all copies to Waymo, or the court, by the end of this month.