Otto and Budweiser have teamed up to complete the first ever autonomous beer delivery. Otto, the Uber-owned developer of self-driving trucks, and AB Inbev brand Budweiser announced the trip earlier today. The self-driving beer truck drove 51,744 cans of beer from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs. The trip was 125 miles along Interstate 25, with a police escort for safety and the driver relaxing in the back of the cab.
But if you’re a Clydesdale horse, you don’t need to worry quite yet. The milestone drive took place on a carefully mapped part of the interstate, and only from exit to exit, at a time of day planned for minimum traffic. It also took special permission from Colorado regulators. There’s still a long way to go before fully autonomous trucks, and it won’t be a short time to get there when it comes to technology and regulations matching up.
The self-driving truck company doesn’t plan to build their own rigs. Instead, they are partnering with existing companies, like Volvo, to develop sensor and software packages that can be integrated into existing trucks. That can help speed roll-out and make it easier to move into what can be a very brand-oriented market.
Otto expects that a driver will still be necessary for a number of tasks involving the truck. There will still be a person needed to handle loading, security, and safety inspections of the truck, and to get it from exit to loading dock. But on the long, boring, dangerous highway sections of the trip, the truck can drive itself. The driver can sleep, read, sight-see, or even practice yoga in the back of the cab while Otto takes them to their destination.
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