Otto, the self driving truck company, a subsidiary of Uber, tied up with AB InBev to transport a truckload of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs last Thursday. The self driving truck traveled a distance of 193 kms in 2 hours at 89 kmph while it had no driver at the wheel. A world’s first.
The driver monitored the vehicle from the trucks sleeper berth for the entire distance while the truck made the journey using cameras, radar and sensors to read the road. The only time the truck driver had to take over was when driving on and off the highway ramp.
It makes this truckload of Budweiser beer cans the first revenue generating load transported via autonomous truck. Otto was paid the market rate of $470 (INR 31,398) for the job. Otto and Andeuser-Busch enlisted the support of the state of Colorado prior to this drive being conducted while the state patrol monitored the vehicle throughout the ride.
Prior to the ride, Otto spent 2 weeks routing the drive from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. Careful mapping of the road was undertaken to ensure that the truck’s on-board technology could handle such a ride. The team wanted to conduct the trip in the morning hours when traffic was at its lightest and weather was clear and last Thursdays conditions were conducive when the ride was undertaken.
Otto plans more such rides and wishes to involve more commercial partners and drivers who will use this technology that has been designed to not only increase safety but also decrease costs. These autonomous trucks will be able to operate 24×7 while drivers will remain in the truck to take over in the event of any unforeseeable dangers.