Everyone has different opinions and predictions for when the trucking industry will become fully autonomous. A group of tech entrepreneurs are extremely pessimistic about the future of self-driving trucks, and are betting big on it by attempting to shift the industry in another direction for the time being.
“None of us will be around when we see full autonomous trucks,” Tim Henry, chief executive of Haul said. But what is Haul, and how does the company hope to use its app to change the future of trucking.
To better understand what Haul is, look at what caused the company to be established.
Tim Henry met his business partner Toan Nguyen Le while working at Uber Freight in 2017. At the time, not only was Uber Freight trying to connect truckers with loads, but it was also trying to establish its foot in the autonomous vehicle industry. When Uber Freight shut down its autonomous vehicle wing, Henry and Nguyen Le realized that the future of logistics would still be in the trucker’s hand for a very, very long time.
With that in mind, the two business partners went out to establish Haul, a company that almost works like a temp agency for truckers, but with more permanence. Here is how it works:
- A trucker applies to work with Haul and is vetted to check if they are a qualified candidate.
- The trucker is hired as an employee of Haul.
- Haul sends the trucker loads the other companies need fulfilled.
- The Haul trucker works for the company to fulfill the contract of his choosing.
- The company pays Haul.
- Haul pays the trucker what he is due for his work. This includes benefits that otherwise may not be a part of the equation if the trucker were traveling on his own.
“The idea for Haul was inspired by the thought that we could take all the best parts of the gig economy – like flexibility and transparent pay – and build a new employment model that created stability for the drivers,” noted Nguyen Le, who is now the chief technology officer of Haul. “Through full-time employment, driver-centric products and training opportunities, we want to inspire drivers to look at their job as a skilled trade with huge upside.”
The business duo believes there is a great upside for everyone involved. Normally the hiring process for a trucker can range from $10,000 to $15,000 per employee, and Haul hopes that it can minimize hiring costs by recruiting top talent and keeping them.
Using a relatively untested method of doing business of using its own permanent employees like a temp agency, the fledgling company may have some legal battles to fight into the future regarding business law. One such potential hurdle is California AB-5, which restricts what counts as an independent contractor to avoid worker exploitation.
“On the legal side, we spent [a] lot of time with lawyers. We are aware how trucking has been a target for employment misclassification,” Henry said.
Haul has headquartered itself in California. Not just because it is the tech center of the United States, but also because it has the tightest employment laws in the nation, and by working to pass there, they can more easily expand into other states, which they are currently working on now.
As of the time of writing this article, Haul does not have a website. It will be interesting to see if and how Haul revolutionizes the trucking industry, and what may happen to it if autonomous trucks arrive earlier than they expect.