The partnership, launched three weeks ago, comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated Uber’s rideshare business, putting thousands of drivers out of work. The coronavirus lockdowns have also led to a surge in demand for essential items like food and medical supplies.
“Truck drivers are the backbone of our economy, and communities are depending on them now more than ever,” said Laurent Hautefeuille, head of Business Development and Strategy & Planning at Uber Freight, in a press statement.
The mission of Uber Freight is “to support all truck drivers whether they are industry veterans or just starting out,” Hautefeuille said, “and we hope this partnership will open up more opportunities for those already on the Uber platform.”
Under the terms of the collaboration, Uber drivers with CDLs will lease on to CloudTrucks, a startup that provides owner-operators with a variety of back office support functions.
Drivers with their own trucks will get access to the carrier’s mobile app so they can manage and book loads from major brokers around the country, and take advantage of free instant payment.
Drivers without their own equipment will be able to lease a tractor and trailer through COOP by Ryder, a platform that connects fleet managers with idle vehicles to businesses that are looking to rent vehicles. CloudTrucks will pay the vehicle deposit.
CloudTrucks founder and CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu declined to reveal the exact number of drivers who have participated in the pilot so far but said there has been “tremendous demand.”
Thousands of Uber drivers may have CDLs, he speculated.
Participating drivers do need to meet CloudTruck requirements to qualify — including having up to two years of experience and a good driving record, with no major traffic violations and not more than five minor violations in the past 36 months.
As for Uber, the collaboration is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at reorienting resources away from ridesharing and toward goods movement during the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks ago, the tech-transport giant launched a courier service as well as a last-mile delivery program.