Uber Technologies’ self-driving trucking unit, Otto, said it partnered with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch to carry 51,744 cans of Budweiser on a shipment through Colorado.
The first commercial shipment by a self-driving truck was a beer run.
Uber Technologies’ self-driving trucking unit, Otto, said Tuesday it partnered with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch to carry 51,744 cans of Budweiser on a shipment through Colorado.
“Yes, you can go out right now and buy a can of beer that was shipped by a self-driving truck,” Otto said.
With “full support from the state of Colorado,” Otto said, the white-and-red truck traveled from Fort Collins, down Interstate 25 through Denver, to Colorado Springs last Thursday “exit-to-exit without any human intervention.”
Most Read Business Stories
- Starbucks fires activist barista for refusing to remove anti-suicide pin
- A 95-square-foot Tokyo apartment: ‘I wouldn’t live anywhere else’
- Goodwill launches sales site featuring luxury brands like Gucci, Prada
- American Airlines pilots oppose congressional extension for Boeing, demand upgrade
- Amazon won't say what partial corporate hiring freeze means to Seattle
“Our professional driver was out of the driver’s seat for the entire 120-mile journey down I-25, monitoring the self-driving system from the sleeper berth in the back,” Otto said.
Otto, started by former Google engineers and executives, was acquired in August by San Francisco-based Uber, which sees self-driving vehicles as the future not only for ride-sharing and deliveries but also for larger shipments by truck.
Trucking is a good candidate to be the first type of driving to be fully automated. One reason is that long-haul big rigs spend most of their time on highways, which are the easiest roads to navigate without human intervention.
But there’s also a sweeter financial incentive for automating trucks: Trucking is a $700 billion industry, in which a third of costs go to compensating drivers. Eliminating drivers would mean big savings. There are 1.7 million truckers now working in the United States.
Otto uses a system of cameras, radar and laser-based lidar sensors that control the truck’s acceleration, braking and steering.
Seeing a big-rig truck without anyone in the front seat can be a bit jarring.
But Otto contended that when motorists “see a truck driving down the road with nobody in the front seat, you’ll know that it’s highly unlikely to get into a collision, drive aggressively or waste a single drop of fuel.”