World’s First Self-Driving Truck Shipment Transports 51,744 Cans of Beer

Self-driving autonomous trucks might be the future of shipping, but for now, they are still unusual enough to garner plenty of attention. Uber’s acquisition last year of Otto, a self-driving truck startup, recently led to what has been billed as the first shipment using a self-driving truck to take place anywhere in the world.

The groundbreaking journey saw the delivery of more than 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer. The beer made the trek from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, passing through downtown Denver for good measure and racking up 120 miles.

Driver Never Entered Driver’s Seat

The system employed by the trucks makes use of radar, lidar sensors, and cameras mounted on the vehicle in order to paint a picture of the road and control braking, steering and acceleration. The beer made its way to its destination without the need for any human intervention. A driver was onboard the vehicle, but he remained in the sleeper berth and monitored the system from there throughout the journey. He never had any need to get in the driver’s seat.

According to the company, truck drivers using the system will be able to rest while their truck continues to drive on long stretches of highway, which means they will still be making money and heading toward their destination while catching up on sleep.

Driverless vehicles are currently being developed by a number of firms, including Google, Apple, and Daimler-Benz, and they show a lot of promise when it comes to decreasing human error, easing driver shortages, and boosting highway safety.
Problems such as drivers quitting or engaging in dangerous activities while driving – like texting, drinking or taking drugs – could become a thing of the past.

However, here are still legislative hurdles to overcome before it can become commercially viable. There’s also the question of liability in the case of accidents. Nevertheless, shipments like the recent Budweiser one in Colorado could soon become the norm rather than the exception.

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