Otto, the Uber-owned self-driving vehicle operation, recently completed its first major commercial delivery in an autonomous truck. The company hauled a load of 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs, a roughly 120-mile trip on Interstate 25, without a driver behind the wheel for the majority stretch.
A trained truck driver was in the cab of the truck at all times to monitor the vehicle’s progress and take over if necessary. At no point was the driver required to intervene, the company said.
The truck drove through Denver — alongside regular passenger car traffic — and navigated to its destination in Colorado Springs without incident.
The beer delivery marks the first commercial partnership for Otto and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Though the delivery went smoothly, the two companies did not indicate whether there would be any further deals.
“We’ve tested with trailers, of course, but there’s nothing like actually doing the real thing, end to end,” Lior Ron, co-founder of Otto, said in an interview with the NY Times.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, has said he envisions a future in which transportation will occur in variety of different ways, using both manned and unmanned vehicles.
Future expansion of the pilot program will allow Otto to test for more types of road and weather conditions, a major factor in autonomous vehicle route plotting.
Read the full NY Times story here.