Otto, Uber's self-driving truck start-up, completes maiden voyage transporting beer in Colorado

By Shawn Knight · 7 replies
Oct 25, 2016
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  1. Otto, the self-driving truck start-up purchased by Uber earlier this year, recently completed its maiden voyage without a human behind the wheel. The precious cargo selected for the landmark journey? More than 50,000 cans of Budweiser, of course.

    In partnership with Anheuser-Busch and the state of Colorado, Otto hauled 51,744 cans of beer from Fort Collins through downtown Denver and into Colorado Springs using a semi-trailer truck retrofitted with an array of cameras, lidar and radar equipment.

    Otto said in a blog post that a human driver was in the vehicle but monitored things from the sleeper cab as the truck drove 120 miles down I-25 all by itself.

    The shipped cans feature a custom design observing the fact that they were delivered autonomously.

    Commercial trucking is just one of many industries that self-driving technology is poised to upend in the coming years.

    As it stands today, commercial drivers have a strict limit on the number of hours they can drive in a given period of time both for their safety and the safety of others on the road. A few years back, if you recall, a Walmart truck driver that hadn’t slept for 28 hours crashed into a vehicle carrying actor Tracy Morgan and several others.

    The crashed killed one and severely injured several others including Morgan who was in a coma for two weeks and spent more than a year recovering from broken bones and a brain injury.

    Autonomous trucks presumably wouldn’t be governed by such restrictions and could lead to lower insurance premiums and improved fuel economy, among other benefits. Conversely, a fleet of self-driving vehicles will inevitably put many of today’s truck drivers out of a job.

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  2. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    Oh my... if you thought the taxi drivers strike was bad, wait till the truckers get this.
  3. bmw95

    bmw95 TS Maniac Posts: 199   +164

    lololol I was thinking the same thing. I think this is a super cool idea, but will defs require a lot of truckers to change careers over the years.
    Kibaruk likes this.
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    I think it will change Truck Drivers to Truck Supervisors. You'll still need to refuel and have someone accountable for the cargo and be there encase anything malfunctions or if a tire blows. We're not quite there to fully automated trucks and I don't know if we ever will be with the constant concern of hackers.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  5. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    That's the beauty of automation, they will find the way, being this stations spread around to do maintenance or mobile teams that can get close to the trucks for repair, where they can get refilled, and so on, instead of having someone on every truck at all times that probably alone can't probably make the fix anyhow (Or might be). Sure, this is not immediate, but eventually will happen.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    Considering the significant power that AFL-CIO has, they could find this to be instant incentive for every over the road driver to join the union, declare a nationwide strike, and force congress to pass laws that REQUIRE a driver behind every rig for "safety" and "assurance" ... probably at a higher rate per mile. In the long run it could most definitely cut down on the number of accidents and I have YET to see them demo this automation back a truck into a dock through narrow clearance .... and lastly, what about all those hookers at the truck stops? There's the 2nd tier to loose their jobs, lots of truck stops close and in general, cost the economy a fortune ......

    I like the progressive ideas, but I just don't see this one taking hold for a very long time.......
  7. BlueDrake

    BlueDrake TS Evangelist Posts: 378   +112

    Not to be the odd one out but don't we have, a shortage of truck drivers because it's just not a life many want? People leaving for one reason or another, be it health or other reasons and not enough taking their place. I've heard from at least 3 or 4 individuals who have done it for a living, and while they enjoy it to some extent it also can strain a lot more. There's more from what I heard retiring from truck driving, than those willing to pick up such a job.

    I imagine it would help both ways, yes it's a way of saying "You're obsolete" or such to many drivers I will admit. On the flip side though, you have more means to ship more products with less problems. Just right now we're seeing this in optimal settings because honestly, I'm just waiting to see them tackle the terrible weather. Not just simply a nice sunny day or some minor rain, but actual severe weather you see in various states and up north.

    I will also tack on what others are saying, and actually have drivers there to monitor things. Even if they don't have to do the job, have someone qualified that can be there in case of there could be a problem. Also if need be find a means to let drivers rest, or possibly be replaced if it's a very long distance trip. So you have someone who isn't tired, doing the monitoring and letting things snowball out of control.
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    I think that was exactly the point of having the 'trucker' monitor things from the sleeper cab (specifically). They could have put him 'behind the wheel' but just not driving, or in the passenger side, and added an additional degree of safety. But I think they wanted to illustrate that the truckers won't lose their jobs, they will still be on board to monitor and maintain the truck.
    stewi0001 likes this.

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