It seems as if the world-famous ridesharing app will be offering its tech services to truck drivers. This Wednesday Uber announced Powerloop, their new venture designed to work in conjunction with the company’s freight-matching system Uber Freight. The company is a part of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group and is a sister company to Uber freight.
At its base, Powerloop is a trailer leasing program, renting out participatory carriers at a rate of USD$25 a day. However, this initiative also creates a trailer pooling program, allowing fleets and smaller carriers like owner operators to access pre-loaded trailers in the Powerloop network. The company says that their main goal is to cut detention time at shippers and receivers. Rather than waiting to load an unload a dedicated trailer, Powerloop will likely be convenient drop and hook system. This allows unloading and loading to occur without the driver, which lowers costs and waiting times for both the shippers and the drivers.
According to Uber Freight, most trucking companies cannot be a part of these programs because they don’t have ample resources to obtain multiple trailers and instead rely primarily on live loads to grow their businesses. Powerloop representatives will work as brokers between shippers and carriers for the pre-loaded trailers within the Powerloop network. According to Uber’ freights Special Projects lead Max Pike, the system will slowly become “increasingly automated”. Eventually, the loads could be put on the Uber Freight platform and available on the app, but only for carriers who are members of the Powerloop system.
The rate of each load will be set by Uber’s pricing algorithms, based on criteria such as capacity, load demand, seasonality, and few other factors.
At the moment, the product is only available in Texas, but the company plans to expand its new carrier tech system to other parts of the USA. Pike says that there are “a number of Fortune 500 companies” that are already participating on the shipper side of the project, such as world-renowned beer distributers Anheuser Busch and Stella Artois.
According to Kofi Asante, Powerloop’s product strategist, one of the benefits of the Powerloop system is that it provides carriers with round trip loads. The majority of power-only loads are one-way hauls, notes Asante, but Powerloop will guarantee drivers have a return haul after dropping their inbound trailer.
Uber Freight said in a statement:
“Powerloop enables a common pool of trailers which can be utilized by a diffuse set of shippers and any eligible carrier. By renting trailers, Powerloop is lowering the barrier to entry to trailer pool programs and unlocking access to drop freight for trucking companies of all sizes. Carriers leveraging the Powerloop program are able to find backhauls more frequently and spend the majority of their day seamlessly moving through the network instead of constantly searching for their next load.”