Self-driving transports may just beat autonomous cars and trucks to regular commercial use on the highway.
Otto, the self-driving truck company owned by Uber, teamed up with Budweiser recently to complete the world’s first shipment by an autonomous transport: nearly 52,000 cans of beer.
The driver monitored the self-driving system from the sleeper berth in the back during the 120-mile trek down I-25.
“In partnership with Anheuser-Busch, and with full support from the State of Colorado, we hauled 51,744 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, through downtown Denver, to Colorado Springs,” an Otto blog post reads.
“By using cameras, radar and lidar sensors mounted on the vehicle to ‘see’ the road, Otto’s system controlled the acceleration, braking, and steering of the truck to carry the beer exit-to-exit without any human intervention.”
Otto announced in May of this year that it was working on the development of a suite of sensors, software and truck enhancements that can be applied to existing transports.
Its partnership with Anheuser-Busch is new, however, and will be ongoing as the companies seek a safer and more efficient way to transport goods.
“This shipment is the next step towards our vision for a safe and productive future across our highways,” the blog post reads. “With an Otto-equipped vehicle, truck drivers will have the opportunity to rest during long stretches of highway while the truck continues to drive and make money for them. When you’ll 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.”
Uber in August purchased Otto’s entire 90-plus person team — which includes Anthony Levandowski, the former tech guru for Google’s self-driving car division — for $680 million.