Happy holidays and welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. Here we’ll get you caught up on all things WHAT THE TRUCK?!? and bring you up to date on the world of freight as we see it. Enjoy! — Dooner
Uber sells self-driving division
The deal — On Monday, Uber announced the sale of its costly and controversial self-driving division Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) to Aurora Innovations. “The ride-hailing giant said it will invest $400 million in Aurora to partner with the company and bring autonomous technologies to life,” according to CNET. In addition, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Aurora’s board and the ride-hailing company will use the tech that Aurora develops.
Tragedy — Uber’s self-driving efforts have been riddled with controversy, including the death of a pedestrian. In that case, the driver was found at fault when investigators discovered she was watching “The Voice” on her phone. However, Uber wasn’t able to entirely skirt responsibility as the court found that the company hadn’t done enough to program its vehicles to avoid jaywalkers.
Theft — When Uber bought Anthony Levandowski’s autonomous vehicle startup Otto, it ended up costing them Waymo money than the initial $680 million they purchased it for. Google alleged that Levandowski stole trade secrets that belonged to Waymo. Uber settled that case in 2018 for $245 million.
Full circle — Aurora’s CEO and co-founder, Chris Urmson, actually worked with Levandowski when the pair were a part of Google’s self-driving arm. Uber CEO Khosrowshahi doesn’t see this move as giving up on the tech.
“What’s crucial is for us to have access to the very best and leading autonomous technology out there,” Khosrowshahi said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Will it work? — Uber ATG burned through over $1 billion on the program and costs were increasing. The company lost $303 million this year between January and September. With this move, Uber now has a less distracted partner that can further develop tech to fulfill the company’s needs in this space, while not encumbering itself with assets and the cost of achieving level 5 autonomous driving.
How Boston gets its Christmas tree
Halifax explosion — On the morning of Dec. 6, 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives, crashed into the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in a strait connecting Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. The SS Mont-Blanc went up in flames and erupted into the largest man-made explosion ever recorded up until that time. This resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 people and 9,000 injuries. A coupIe years ago, I did a podcast on the entire incident here.
A tradition — In 1918, Halifax thanked the city of Boston by presenting it with a Christmas tree for the aid that it had provided in the aftermath of the explosion. It wouldn’t be until 1971 that this became an annual tradition when the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association made the yearly evergreen donation to promote tree exports. The program is now run by the Nova Scotia Government.
A road less traveled — Due to COVID-19, the tree traveled via container ship this year from Halifax to Maine, where it was then trucked down to Boston.
ONE + 1899 overboard
Lost at sea — Last week the ONE container ship Apus encountered gale force winds approximately 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. The storm surge caused 1,900 containers to become lost at sea, 64 of which contain hazardous materials. The vessel was en route from Yantian, China, to Long Beach, California.
“We’re not really sure of the area of the shipping containers or how widespread it is,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Fisher, a spokesman for Coast Guard District 14 in Honolulu.
What’s in the box? — As Kim Link-Wills reported, Henry Byers, FreightWaves’ maritime market expert, said the top importers using ONE as their ocean carrier into Long Beach the past 30 days were Flexport International, MOL Consolidation, Topocean Consolidation, UPS Ocean Freight Services, DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne + Nagel and C.H. Robinson. Other ONE customers through Long Beach include Penguin Random House, Wilson Sporting Goods and Hasbro.
Still looking for a PS5? Grab some diving gear and head to Hawaii.
Uncommon occurrence — This single incident represents more containers lost at sea in an entire year since at least 2008 … except for in 2013. What happened in 2013? As we mentioned on Monday’s WTT?!?, the MOL Comfort sank as did its 4,293 containers! According to the World Shipping Council, 1,382 containers are lost at sea per year on average.
Breaking really bad
Ozymandias — As ominous as the ringing of Tio Salamanca’s bell, an abandoned tractor-trailer in a residential neighborhood just south of the U.S.-Mexico border was reported to authorities.
Crawl Space — Inside the truck among bags of plaster, drug-sniffing dogs found enough narcotics to launch empires for a dozen Heisenbergs. Among the haul were:
- 8,810 pounds of fentanyl.
- 145 pounds of methamphetamine.
- 13,216 pounds of heroin.
- 2,894 pounds of marijuana.
Felina — With a load that heavy, you’d think the trailer would have already been swarmed by Gus Fring, Uncle Jack, Tuco or The Cousins, but no arrests have been made as of yet.
A VERY WHAT THE TRUCK?!? HOLIDAY SPECIAL MONDAY, DEC. 14
I love a good holiday special — Monday of next week on the last WHAT THE TRUCK?!? of the year, The Dude and I are throwing a massive Christmas party LIVE on the show. Hear from your favorite hosts and FreightWaves personalities as Founder and CEO Craig Fuller, President George Abernathy, Emily Szink, Kevin Hill, Freightonomics, Great Quarter, Guys, #withSONAR, and more all conspire to jingle your bells.
Holiday tunes — Kingsgate Logistics’ Tom Curee #PlaysItForward with a Christmas original.
Christmas on 18 wheels — Trucking TikTok influencer Wayne Cragg shares his view from the cab and talks about life on the road while moving Santa’s real sleigh. Spoiler: It’s 53 feet and those tires don’t stop.
Put a bow on it — We’ll recap the highs and lows of what proved to be a most challenging year and celebrate the human spirit in the supply chain that has kept America and the world moving.
Now on demand
What’s an “unrelenting shake test”? Daimler’s Samantha Parlier demonstrates in the most amazing of ways. Check it out.
Subscribe to the show
Or simply look up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.
All FreightWaves podcasts can also be found on one feed by looking up FreightCasts wherever you get your podcasts.
Want a vintage WHAT THE TRUCK?!? shirt? Check out the swag store.