- Title: Uber's Otto hauls Budweiser across Colorado
- Date: 25th October 2016
- Summary: DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 25, 2016) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUTOTRADER SENIOR ANALYST, MICHELLE KREBS, SAYING: "It's a very interesting beer run, isn't it? Well, I think, what's interesting about it is, we've talked a lot about self-driving cars and this idea that we're all going to own them. I think this is an example of the more near-term realistic use. Many of us have thought that it's not going to be individuals that own self-driving cars, they all have them in their driveways, it's more going to be commercial applications that come first. And things like long-haul truck drivers, just as this example shows, this is kind of, I think where we're gonna be mid-term as we move toward self-driving vehicles."
- Embargoed: 9th November 2016 19:22
- Keywords: Uber's Otto Budweiser Colorado self-driving autonomus
- Location: UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, COLORADO AND DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES
- City: UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, COLORADO AND DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA00255I8425
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: SHOTS 1, 3, 5, 7 ARE MUTE
In the first real-world commercial use of autonomous trucking, some 45,000 cans of Budweiser beer arrived late last week to a warehouse after traveling over 120 highway miles in a self-driving truck with no driver at the wheel, executives from Uber and Anheuser-Busch said.
Otto, the self-driving truck subsidiary of Uber, shipped a truckload of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs last Thursday (October 20) with the driver monitoring from the truck's sleeper berth for the entire two-hour journey, Otto's co-founder Lior Ron and Anheuser-Busch's senior director of logistics strategy James Sembrot told Reuters on Friday (October 21).
The early morning drive at an average speed of 55 mph (89 kph) marks what the two executives said was the first revenue generating load transported via autonomous truck.
Otto was paid the market rate of $470 for the job using one of its trucks outfitted with the new technology. Otto and Anheuser-Busch enlisted the support of the state of Colorado before the drive, and the state patrol monitored it, although Colorado and most other U.S. states do not expressly prohibit self-driving trucks.
The only time the truck driver delivering the beer took to the wheel was while driving on and off the highway ramp, an Otto spokesman said on Monday (October 24).
Transportation experts predict the earliest applications of autonomous technology will be in self-driving trucks, not cars. The technology is best suited to the relative predictability of long hauls on highways, rather than busy city streets with many distractions.
Another Silicon Valley company, Peloton Technology, is testing driver-assisted "platooning" in which trucks communicate, traveling in close formation to reduce drag and save on fuel, while increasing safety.
Otto, co-founded by Google car and map project veterans Anthony Levandowski and Ron, was acquired in August by Uber, which is trying to advance self-driving technology in its ride services business.
Ron told Reuters that Otto plans to involve more commercial partners and independent drivers who will use the technology, designed to increase safety and decrease costs as the truck is able to be operated 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
The biggest cost savings for the trucking industry will eventually come from eliminating the driver entirely, but Ron said drivers would remain inside the trucks "for the foreseeable future."
Anheuser-Busch said the company logs 450 million miles on U.S. highways annually.
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