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Uber on course to Disrupt Freight with Trucking Marketplace

After cabs and food, Uber is taking on trucks.

The ride-hailing powerhouse has announced a new marketplace for freighting, which will allow shippers and trucking companies to get in touch directly.

The service, expected to launch in early 2017, is a bid to change the somewhat byzantine way trucking works today. Right now, carriers (that is: truckers) and shipping companies do not deal face-to-face, but go through a third party— a brokerage company whose only purpose is  conveniently matching shippers and carriers, and getting a good commission as a result.

In an interview with Business Insider, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick  made clear how he wanted to do away with the system. On Uber’s new platform, there will be no go-between, only parties connecting directly, and prices waxing and waning according to the law of supply and demand.

“You’re going to save money by having real-time pricing,” Kalanick said. “Having a middleman who is essentially making phone calls all day long at its very core is not efficient.”

That Uber had set its eyes on the trucking industry was not a mystery. It had been made abundantly clear in August 2016, when the company acquired autonomous trucking start-up Otto.

Otto just celebrated its first successful driverless delivery on October 25, two days before Uber Freight was announced.

Otto’s technology is still in its infancy, but it is easy to predict that as its trucks get more sophisticated, self-driving freight vehicles might debut alongside Uber-aided human truckers.

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