Uber has claimed the first commercial shipment by a self-driving truck, a feat achieved by its self-driving truck unit, Otto. Uber partnered with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Cos. to carry 51,744 cans of Budweiser down a preprogrammed route on Colorado’s I-25 highway, with a police vehicle traveling behind it.
Otto, an autonomous trucking company, was acquired by Uber this summer as part of its push into the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry.
This is hardly the first trip across public highways involving self-driving trucks in this intensely competitive field. Back in April, a fleet of self-driving trucks from major manufacturers like Volvo and Daimler completed the first ever cross-border trip made by a convoy of largely autonomous vehicles.
In September, Volvo successfully tested a fully autonomous truck in a working mine about 1300 meters underground in northern Sweden, also claiming a “world first.”
“…with full support from the State of Colorado, we hauled 51,744 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, through downtown Denver, to Colorado Springs,” stated Otto. “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.”
A professional driver was monitoring events, even though the self-driving system completed the 120-mile trip successfully.
According to Otto, the idea is for truck drivers to cede part of the often arduous long drives to an automated system, while they take a break.