World’s First Commercial Shipment by Self-Driving Truck - Global Trade Magazine
  October 31st, 2016 | Written by

World’s First Commercial Shipment by Self-Driving Truck

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  • Self-driving truck hauled fully loaded beer trailer.
  • Self-driving truck carried beer over 120 miles on Interstate 25 in Colorado.
  • Otto and Anheuser-Busch completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck.

Otto and Anheuser-Busch announced they have completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck.

With support from the state of Colorado, Otto’s self-driving truck hauled a fully loaded trailer of Budweiser beer more than 120 miles on I-25 from Fort Collins, Colorado through Denver, to Colorado Springs.

A professional truck driver was in the vehicle for the entire route, monitoring the delivery from the sleeper berth as the truck completed the route—exit-to-exit—entirely on its own without any driver intervention.

The load originated at Anheuser-Busch’s facility in Loveland, Colorado and departed for its journey from the Fort Collins, Colorado, weigh station. This milestone marks the first time in history that a self-driving vehicle has shipped commercial cargo, making it a landmark achievement for self-driving technology, the state of Colorado, and the transportation industry.

“The incredible success of this pilot shipment is an example of what is possible when you deploy self-driving technology,” said Otto co-founder Lior Ron. “It also showcases the importance of collaboration with forward-looking states like Colorado and innovative companies like Anheuser-Busch. By embracing this technology, both organizations are actively contributing to the creation of a safer and more efficient transportation network.”

Otto and Anheuser-Busch share a vision of enhancing the safety and efficiency of America’s highways. The partners embarked on this effort in response to the significant challenges facing the trucking industry. The shared vision for the self-driving technology is to transform this industry by reducing fatalities caused by human error; enabling fuel-efficient driving; and enhancing truck utilization and providing a sustainable solution for the driver shortage.

“we hope to see this technology widely deployed across our highways to improve safety for all road users and work towards a low-emissions future,” said James Sembrot, senior director for logistics strategy at Anheuser-Busch.

One opportunity for Otto’s technology is that drivers will be able to rest during long stretches of highway, and perhaps even catch up on sleep. That raises the question of whether the driver is “on-duty” with respect to hours of service laws while they are resting. To ensure the safety of all road users, these laws limit the number of hours truck drivers can work each day. Naturally, this also limits how much money drivers can make. Otto’s self-driving technology has the potential to extend productive hours without forcing drivers to choose between safety and earnings.

“Teaming with Otto to deploy self-driving technology on the roads of Colorado is a monumental step forward in advancing safety solutions that will help Colorado move towards zero deaths on our roads,” said Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. “Colorado will continue to focus on working with Otto and others on how to safely deploy this technology on our roads.”

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