Uber Inc. has had a momentous week, with it introducing a new company called Powerloop last Thursday, which would rent out trailers to power-only carriers, enabling them to increase revenue by taking up more loads. Just before that, Uber Freight had come with an announcement of its own, unveiling an upgraded phone application with new features that included a better search functionality and map view.
“The update is to the ways drivers book loads. We have spent a lot of time with the drivers trying to understand their preferences while they are looking for a load, and considered them while building a whole experience around that,” said Adam Schwabe, senior product designer at Uber Freight.
One of the significant changes to the current application is the overall search experience, which Schwabe explained is more intuitive and personalized now. “We have completely redesigned our search experience by allowing drivers to customize more than they did before, including being able to jump to a pick-up date in the future,” he said. Uber Freight believes this update would help drivers plan their weeks better, all with just a few taps on the app.
Another feature added to the app is the possibility for drivers to sort their search results based on factors that affect their decision-making process – like weight, deadhead, rate per mile, and price. “They can sort loads based on their personal preferences. Previously they could see loads sorted by deadhead routes, which made sense for most drivers,” said Schwabe. “But now, drivers could have considerations around taking loads that are really heavy, which could affect their efficiency.”
Having spoken to drivers at every step along the way, Schwabe felt that drivers were very specific about their rate per mile numbers, which would help them stay profitable. Uber Freight’s customized sorting now allows fleets to look at their options based on rate per mile, which gives them flexibility in understanding which loads to haul for maximizing profits.
“The last update that we have is the ability for drivers to view loads in a map. Previously, the loads were in a list format, which works well to show them what loads are available over time, but not necessarily give them a great amount of detail of where that specific load is, if they are considering what is an area that would be comfortable driving to, and how far it is from the freeway if they are going in a certain direction,” said Schwabe. “This feature now lets them visualize where those loads are to move in any direction and be able to search wherever they are looking for.”
Xinfeng Le, product manager at Uber Freight, weighed in by highlighting the thought process that went into developing the new features for the app. “It was really about understanding what the drivers wanted, and we fully acknowledge the fact that each driver and each carrier is different,” she said. “They have different types of requirements when it comes to picking a load, and so we were looking to drivers in trying to figure out what those criteria were for each individual and took that input to create a very personalized experience where they could customize the app to their needs.”
During the design process, Uber Freight had frequented truck shows and truck stops to get feedback at every step of the way. The company has been iterating on the final product based on the input it received from drivers, which Le mentioned to have been very positive.
“We took the feedback and made some adjustments to the design so that the final product that will be seen by the public would be exactly what the driver wants,” she said. “Uber Freight is in a unique position where we can leverage a lot of technology from the Uber platform. We are really happy to build on that technology and help truck drivers and carriers make a better living.”