Otto’s ro­bot lorry de­liv­ers beer through town

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT -

SELF-DRIV­ING trucks have proven they’re able to drive closer to­gether than their hu­man­con­trolled coun­ter­parts, and they have the po­ten­tial to cre­ate big fuel sav­ings, but there’s still one cru­cial test for the tech­nol­ogy: can it de­liver beer?

Otto, a sub­sidiary of Uber, has an­swered that ques­tion by de­liv­er­ing a ship­ment of Bud­weiser in Colorado. Loaded up with 51 744 cans of Bud­weiser, a Volvo kit­ted out with Otto’s self­driv­ing hard­ware made the trek from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, via down­town Den­ver.

The truck used its on­board cam­eras, li­dar and radar sen­sors to nav­i­gate the en­tirety of I-25 with­out any in­put from the su­per­vis­ing hu­man driver.

The retro­fit­ted self-driv­ing hard­ware cost around $30 000 (R404 602), and can be fit­ted to any truck with an au­to­matic gear­box. Otto is cur­rently test­ing the soft­ware on a fleet of bi­grigs in the Bay Area.

This is in line with what Otto promised ear­lier this year. Un­like the Mercedes Future Truck 2025, which looks to a day where driv­ers won’t be needed in the cabin, Otto’s sys­tem is de­signed to lighten the load dur­ing mo­not­o­nous high­way miles, be­fore re­vert­ing back to a per­son when things get a bit trick­ier in town.

The ship­ment of Bud­weiser is the first to be de­liv­ered by a self­driv­ing truck, a fact cel­e­brated by a small note on the bot­tom of all the cans in the ship­ment.

— New At­las.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

A Volvo kit­ted out with ro­bot-mak­ers Otto’s self-driv­ing hard­ware be­ing tested in the U.S.

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