Uber isn’t just about picking people up for a night out or helping with commutes to work.
The ride-hailing giant is also a trucking business. The same technology (a smartphone and algorithms) that help connect commuters with drivers also can help connect truckers with routes.
Uber’s trucking business, which launched in Texas in May, has expanded to California, Arizona, the Chicago-Midwest region, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, Uber announced Thursday. Uber also announced its app will now proactively suggest routes to truckers.
“The app will now automatically learn drivers preferences based on their past loads, their location, their home base, and more. When a new load is available that matches these preferences, the app will notify the driver so they dont miss out,” reads a blog post on the announcement.
Here’s how the app works for truckers:
Uber did not disclose how many trucking routes it has helped complete so far, but Bill Driegert, director of Uber Freight, did tell USA Today in an interview that since launching trucking in Texas in January they have “seen a tenfold increase in load volumes.”
The trucking business is an $800 billion-per-year industry that Uber is hoping to get a piece of. It’s an important part of their plan, particularly as the company continues to struggle to overcome the last eight months of scandals that include most of its executive leadership including its CEO being forced to quit (some for sexual harassment allegations) and a current trial over stealing information from Google’s self-driving car division.
For Uber, the trucking business provides a new revenue stream other than consumer rides. It’s already decided to close off some of its business, such as its operations in China and its bike messenger service UberRush.
But Uber isn’t the only tech company trying to modernize the trucking industry. Convoy, a business based in Seattle, launched its own trucking app in 2015. It closed a $62 million funding round last month. Though, that’s far less than the more-than $15 billion Uber has raised in equity and debt financing.
Uber is also betting on a future without truckers, just like it is without drivers (or at least a lot less of them). Uber has a division building self-driving trucks, formerly named Otto after the startup it acquired in 2016.