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Analysts express skepticism over Uber’s self-driving truck initiative

Uber's efforts to revolutionize the freight hauling sector with the introduction of self-driving trucks has been met with a wave of skepticism by a number of leading analysts and industry executives. Analysts and industry executives with the trucking sector have questioned what exactly the ride-hailing service can bring to its sprawling $700 billion industry.

Uber, which is headquartered in San Francisco, has completely transformed the taxi industry on a global basis and has a footprint in every continent in the world. However, it announced its intentions last year to disrupt the freight hauling sector by offering a complete package of trucking technology including self-driving trucks and smartphone-based logistics services.

However, industry watchers have remarked that thus far Uber's performance has been modest at best as it attempts to build a brokerage service connecting truckers looking for loads to shippers with cargo to haul. In addition to this, Uber's efforts have been hindered significantly by a high-stakes lawsuit which alleges that the self-driving colossus stole secrets linked to its $680 million purchase of the self-driving trucking start-up entity Otto-Motto in 2016.

Testing on autonomous technology has slowed significantly and a number of Otto engineers have been subsequently redeployed to Uber's cargo business. That unit which was formally launched in May entitled 'Uber Freight' is uncanny to the organizations it's trying to displace. Turmoil within the company isn't helping and Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick's decision to take a break has only heightened concern over Uber's future as it fights dozens of lawsuits all over the world.

However, Uber remains adamant that the company is fully focused on its self-driving truck project insisting it's in it for the 'long-term'. Uber's director of operations, Bill Driegert said, "Our push into trucking is moving forward at full throttle. We're shipping large brand names and have a solid core of drivers who have signed up and are using it regularly. We are all in on this. We are in it for the long-term and we think we can make a difference."

However, he did concede that Uber's self-driving truck initiative and its freight business are on separate paths, with at the moment no clear correlation or plans to partner on a full complement of services anytime soon, whilst Otto still doesn't have a commercial product for customers to buy.