THE MOST IMPRESSIVE thing about the Uber trip from the Midwest to Southern California wasn’t that the truck drove itself 344 miles across Arizona. It was what happened when two men named Larry and Mark met at the western edge of the Copper State. Larry, the trained safety driver, had spent the autonomous voyage watching over his robot. Mark was freshly arrived from Los Angeles in a conventional truck.
Each unhitched their trailer and hooked up to the other’s. Mark drove his new pile of cargo to its final destination. Larry headed back east, flipping his semi into autonomous mode.
This recent meet and greet, which Uber described today, marks the ride-hailing giant’s latest step into the world of long-haul trucking: a step that depended not just on self-driving tech, but on the logistical firepower to make it work for real.