Otto’s Self-Driving Truck Makes its Debut Delivery

October 25, 2016

The Otto self-driving semi truck made its first major delivery – a lot of Budweiser beer.

otto2[Image Courtesy of Otto]

The truck, equipped with $30,000 of new material from Otto, brought 50,000 beers from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs. The 120 mile trek was the first of its kind.

Uber bought the San Francisco startup Otto over the summer for a cool $670 million. The technology Otto uses only functions on the highway where there are less tricks like pedestrians or roundabouts. The drivers simply get the 18 wheeler to the interstate, flip on the self-driving function and the truck takes care of the rest.

“The initial appeal for us was to see how we could meet the needs of a company like Anheuser-Busch,” Otto co-founder Lior Ron said in an interview with USA TODAY. “But now after this successful test, we’re eager to see how it will handle other roads and other weather.”

Anheuser-Busch is all about the technological improvement, especially if it means higher safety for their drivers.

otto1[Image Courtesy of Otto]

“We think that self-driving technologies can improve safety, reduce emissions, and improve operational efficiencies of our shipments,” said James Sembrot in an interview, who handles logistics for Anheuser-Busch.

otto4[Image Courtesy of Otto]

Sembrot noted that their beer travels 450 million miles each year to a number of destinations.

For Ron, the practical testing has just begun. He said Otto plans on giving new experiences to the vehicles so they’re prepared for anything on the road.

“The technology is ready to start doing these commercial pilots,” Ron said in an interview. “Over the next couple of years, we’ll continue to develop the tech, so it’s actually ready to encounter every condition on the road.”

Smarter trucks mean safer conditions for drivers monitoring these vehicles. The trucking industry carries 70 percent of the nation’s goods, but there are a shortage of drivers. The American Trucking Association reported a potential loss of 175,000 drivers by 2024. Nearly 400,000 truck accidents occur each year, and human error takes the blame for most wrecks.

Via Otto, USA Today

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