Automotive

Retrofitted self-driving kit designed to make any truck autonomous

Retrofitted self-driving kit d...
The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
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The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
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The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
The company is based upon the belief that self-driving technology will result in more viable, efficient and safer transportation
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The company is based upon the belief that self-driving technology will result in more viable, efficient and safer transportation
Otto is developing what it calls a "self-driving kit for long-haul trucks"
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Otto is developing what it calls a "self-driving kit for long-haul trucks"
The self-driving kit comprises sensors, vehicle hardware and self-driving software
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The self-driving kit comprises sensors, vehicle hardware and self-driving software
The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
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The self-driving kit is designed to be retrofitted on normal, manually driven trucks
The camera, radar and laser sensors are located on top of the truck
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The camera, radar and laser sensors are located on top of the truck
The sensors feed data to in-truck software that makes real-time driving decisions
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The sensors feed data to in-truck software that makes real-time driving decisions
Otto has 40 employees, including alumni from the likes of Google, Apple and Tesla
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Otto has 40 employees, including alumni from the likes of Google, Apple and Tesla
View gallery - 8 images

As you might expect, the charge toward a world of autonomous trucks is being led by major manufacturers like Daimler and Volvo. An embryonic startup called Otto, however, is developing technology that can be retrofitted to existing trucks so that they too can drive themselves.

Otto was only founded in January, but it already has 40 employees, including alumni from the likes of Google, Apple and Tesla. The company is based upon the belief that self-driving technology will result in more viable, efficient and safer transportation and it says it hopes to bring those benefits to goods and services transportation.

To do that, it is developing what it calls a self-driving kit for long-haul trucks. The kit comprises sensors, vehicle hardware and self-driving software, all of which is designed to be installed on normal, manually driven trucks. The camera, radar and laser sensors are located on top of the truck and these feed data to in-truck software that makes real-time driving decisions.

Little else in the way of information about how the system works has been released by Otto. There is reference to robotics on its website, which will presumably be used for carrying out the steering and speed control instructions issued by the software, but where and how the requisite hardware is fitted remains unclear.

The camera, radar and laser sensors are located on top of the truck
The camera, radar and laser sensors are located on top of the truck

Otto says it expects a driver in one of its trucks to "play more of a supervisory role" and that this will result in the ability for more miles to be driven, in safer roads and in greater levels of productivity. The cost of the self-driving kit has not yet been finalized as it is still being tested, but the firm says it is likely to be a fraction of the US$100,000 - $200,000 cost of buying a commercial truck.

The video below shows one of Otto's trucks on the road.

Source: Otto

Otto – Self-Driving Trucks

View gallery - 8 images
14 comments
KirkAugustin
Considering it is illegal and unsafe, the high price does not really matter. It is insane to think anyone could actually use a self driving system, when so far they are unable to see turn signals, rely on GPS that does not work if there is solar activity, and can't be used at night, in rain or snow.
KirkAugustin
Nor should any autonomous system ever be allowed or sold, since there is no way to prevent it from being used illegally, for things like a terrorist bomb delivery system. Human drivers will resent them and force them off the road. Juries will award huge settlements against the makers whenever there is an accident.
Jeff Kilgore
How soon will it be that a product such as Otto's will be made to retrofit automobiles?
habakak
More reason to go drive-by-wire, throttle-by-wire and brake-by-wire. It will be so much easier to convert to an autonomous vehicle with those features already in place. Cars are moving towards a fully electronic model so this will only be a matter of time.
tangential
Hmm. Robotics... Wasn't Otto the auto-pilot in "Airplane"?.
Bob Flint
Yeah right, great for hy-jackers as well, park yourself safely in front of one of these rigs, and get busy unloading...what's it going to do blow it's air horn, and send out a distress call after 5 minutes, not likely it will think it's stuck in traffic... Besides most rigs are in such poor technical condition stuff would never move, takes drivers to get through rain, snow, ice, traffic, etc....
VincentWolf
Many truck drivers are polite and willing to work with heavy traffic of cars and allow them to pass. Will these autonomous trucks just sit bumper to bumper and take up passing lanes and refuse to allow cars to pass safely? Or will people have to get out their guns and shoot them off the road?
Daniel Gregory
This is going to kill a lot of jobs.
Nelson
Technology gives one man the abilties of a thousand men, then burdens the Earth with those thousand men it just made obsolete.
physics314
Autonomous vehicles would be a qualitative leap, much like that from horses and carriages to cars. A century ago, cars had naysayers, citing cost, reliability, risk, utility... The thing is, cars got much better over a century, and horses did not.