Nothing conveys a gathering to a sudden stop like coming up short on alcohol. Indeed, as opposed to asking your assigned driver to go on a brew run, you might have the capacity to approach a self-driving truck to keep the cooler loaded.A self-driving truck, created by the Uber-claimed startup Otto, as of late made the primary independent business conveyance by driving 120 miles (200 kilometers) crosswise over Colorado to convey 2,000 instances of Budweiser lager.
On Oct. 20, the truck departed the Anheuser-Busch facility in Loveland, Colorado, and drove itself on Interstate 25 through Denver — alongside regular car traffic — to Colorado Springs. According to Otto, a trained driver was in the truck at all times, but never had to intervene for the entire 120-mile stretch of interstate.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, has said he envisions a future in which transportation will involve both driver-controlled and driverless vehicles, reported The New York Times. Uber acquired Otto, a San Francisco-based startup run by veterans of Google’s autonomous vehicle research, in August.
“I think the most important things that computers are going to do in the next 10 years is drive trucks and cars,” Anthony Levandowski, Otto co-founder, said in the company’s video about the inaugural journey.
However, Otto is clear that while the truck is largely autonomous in terms of driving, drivers will still be involved in the deliveries. Walter Martin, the Otto truck driver on the Budweiser run, said in the video that human drivers are still needed for performing pickup, loading the freight and ensuring the cargo is secure in the back of the vehicle. Drivers also navigate the city portions of the trip, Martin added.
“Then once you’re on the interstate, one switch and it’s driving itself down the road,” he said.
The idea of sharing the road with self-driving vehicles seems all but inevitable, but some still question whether the technology has progressed enough to be safe. This year saw the first driverless car fatality, when a crash killed the driver of a Tesla Model S electric car while the vehicle was in self-driving mode.
The Model S is not a true self-driving car, but Tesla’s Autopilot feature is an assistive technology. In other words, computer software, sensors, cameras and radar allow the car’s Autopilot feature to complete tasks like merging onto a highway, but drivers are instructed to keep their hands on the wheel.
Otto’s truck driver, on the other hand, was out of the driver’s seat during the entire journey from Loveland to Colorado Springs. Levandowski said the company is focused on safety.
“Otto’s technology is all about making the road safer. It’s like a train on software rails,” Levandowski said. “So when you will see a vehicle driving with nobody in it, you’ll know that it’s very unlikely to get in a collision.”