Self-driving trucks have proven they're able to drive closer together than their human-controlled counterparts, and they have the potential to create big fuel savings, but there's still one crucial test for the technology: Can it deliver beer? Otto, a subsidiary of Uber, has answered that question by delivering a shipment of Budweiser in Colorado.
Loaded up with 51,744 cans of Budweiser, a Volvo kitted out with Otto's self-driving hardware made the trek from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, via downtown Denver. The truck used its onboard cameras, lidar and radar sensors to navigate the entirety of I-25 without any input from the supervising human driver.
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All up, the retrofitted self-driving hardware is worth around US$30,000, and can be fitted to any truck with an automatic gearbox. At the moment, Otto's software is being subjected to further testing on a fleet of big-rigs in the Bay Area.
This is in line with what Otto promised earlier this year. Unlike the Mercedes Future Truck 2025, which looks to a day where drivers won't be needed in the cabin, Otto's system is designed to lighten the load during monotonous highway miles, before reverting back to a person when things get a bit trickier in town.
The shipment of Budweiser is the first to be delivered by a self-driving truck, a fact celebrated by a small note on the bottom of all the cans in the shipment. You can watch the operation in action in the video below.
Source: Otto Blog