Uber CEO: US and China will 'race' each other in autonomous freight

Uber CEO: US and China will 'race' each other in autonomous freight

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a new interview that the United States and China will participate in a “race” for driverless vehicles in the freight industry. 

“I think that the U.S. and China are going to play a part, and I think it's gonna be a race,” Khosrowshahi said of the autonomous truck and freight space during an interview scheduled to air Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

Khosrowshahi praised both nations for their technological innovation, but noted governments will inevitably play a role in regulating the autonomous space.

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“You know, everything that you're seeing in the technology space right now, I think the innovation that you see in China's extraordinary. And the innovation that you see in the U.S. continues to be incredibly rich, entrepreneurial, et cetera,” he said.

“And I do think it's going to be a race. … It partially is going to have to do with the amount of innovation and the core pure tech out there.”

His comments come amid heightened tensions for China-U.S. relations, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE earlier this year exchanged tariff threats with China. 

Officials from both countries have recently participated in trade talks, and the Trump administration this month expressed contradictory statements on whether or not there is a trade war between America and China. 

Khosrowshahi, who was named Uber's CEO last year, described plans to “Uberize the freight brokerage business,” a process, he said, that has operated offline historically.

“We'll do it for lower margins, and the dollars will go into the pockets of the shippers and/or the truckers, and we will — make some money as well,” he told CNBC.

“And if you take that forward into the age of automation, where trucks are driven autonomously, at least on a highway, you get to a pretty interesting business — in the [business-to-business] space as well. So again, that's another bet that we're making, but the early results are actually pretty encouraging for us.”

Uber in 2017 introduced Uber Freight, an application meant to pair shippers and carriers, and earlier this year unveiled Uber Freight Plus, which offers discounts to users on various essentials, including fuel.

The company in March began operating self-driving trucks to transport freight in Arizona, but announced last week that it would halt all autonomous testing in the that state after a fatal crash involving one of the company's self-driving vehicles. 

Updated at 12:51 p.m.