ATA panel: the future of trucking is ‘liquidity and automation’

On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 4, a panel of experts discussed autonomous and platooning trucks during the American Trucking Associations annual Management Conference and Exhibition (MC&E) in Las Vegas.

In contrast to other presenters in suits and ties, Anthony Levandowski had bright orange sneakers, jeans and a quarter-zip pullover. But make no mistake about it, he is serious about the future of trucking.

“I love robots,” said the former Google executive and co-founder of Otto, a startup that began building self-driving trucks from his garage in Palo Alto, Calif., in early 2016. Otto was recently acquired by Uber and he now lead’s Uber’s self-driving efforts for cars and trucks.

The future of transportation and trucking is liquidity and automation, he said. By liquidity he means the ability to match carriers and shippers efficiently to reduce empty loads and emissions. By automation, he means having self-driving trucks everywhere, all the time.

Just as passenger ride service Uber now offers last-mile delivery of take-out food and groceries, Uber Freight will eventually be delivering truckload-size quantities without driver assistance, he said.

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