Self-Driving Beer Truck Makes 0-Mile Delivery—yet There’s One Concern
Out of the cooler as well as into the history books.
Fully loaded having a cargo of Budweiser beer, a self-driving truck delivered the first known commercial shipment of goods under autonomous operations last week. With software created by self-driving truck pioneer Otto, a tractor-trailer departed a weigh station along Interstate 25 in Fort Collins, Colorado, last week, as well as drove without incident in fully autonomous mode 0 miles south to Colorado Springs, reaching a maximum speed of 55 mph along the way. Otto as well as Anheuser-Busch announced the development which morning.
The truck completed the on-ramp-to-exit journey without human intervention. Otto executives as well as Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials hailed the demonstration as a landmark step toward safer roads as well as a trucking industry which could be more nimble if drivers are able to rest while the truck drives for portions of the journey.
yet there are questions about how the project was vetted. In a press Discharge summarizing the venture, Otto says a professional truck driver was inside the vehicle the entire route, monitoring the delivery via the sleeper berth—a location which could leave him or her unable to respond to any immediate problems which arose along the way.
For testing purposes, some other states require a driver behind the wheel. In California, for example, where more than a dozen automotive as well as technology companies have logged years of experience testing self-driving vehicles, a law requires which a human operator be present behind the wheel for testing on public roads. some other states have similar laws which govern testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads. yet not Colorado.
“We don’t truly have regulations which have expressly enabled or prohibited a driverless vehicle,” Shailen Bhatt, executive director of CDOT, told Car as well as Driver. “So which was sort of in which gray area. We’ll work on which going forward.”
Otto contacted Colorado officials about three months ago to gauge their interest in partnering on the project. Since the state had no established parameters for examining or vetting autonomous technology, Bhatt said, they worked with Otto to set up benchmarks as well as used state troopers to monitor the technology on previous treks between Fort Collins as well as Colorado Springs.
“Over the last month, we’ve required hundreds of hours of testing, both with us as well as the state patrol inside the vehicle, as well as said, ‘Prove to us which which technology works,’ ” he said. “Our state-patrol partners convinced us, through ride-alongs as well as data, which we can green-light which. We had to be careful of the driver at the wheel not taking control. So we said the truck had to complete the full distance, as well as only then we said okay.”
Bhatt said the truck completed the route six to eight times with troopers watching as well as no interventions prior to the demonstration. “Once they accomplished which, which was obvious the technology could handle which,” he said.
By contrast, Uber, which purchased Otto for a reported $680 million earlier which year, requires human safety drivers behind the wheel of its autonomous vehicles which are currently picking up passengers as part of a pilot project in Pittsburgh. Google, which tests extensively in California as well as in Arizona, Texas, as well as Washington, also has human safety drivers behind the wheel for its more than 2.1 million miles of testing in autonomous mode, an average of about 25,000 miles per week. Earlier which year, a Toyota executive said which millions of miles weren’t enough to measure the reliability of autonomous technology. He said, “We need trillion-mile reliability.”
On its website, Otto reports which has accumulated “hundreds of thousands” of miles of testing. A spokesperson did not return a request for specific information on the number of miles of autonomous testing which had conducted.
CDOT workers ensured the road striping along I-25 was adequate during the testing. A convoy of state troopers as well as support vehicles escorted the vehicle down the interstate when the official driverless journey took place last week. which convoy included a state trooper who drove about a minute ahead of the vehicle, a trooper 10 seconds ahead of the vehicle as well as a lead car immediately in front of the truck, according to Bhatt. Another state trooper trailed the truck, along with two more vehicles with technicians as well as engineers aboard. Bhatt observed the testing via one of the trailing cars.
“You know, which’s incredibly boring as well as incredibly terrifying at the same time, to watch a driverless car carry a load of freight—as well as potentially your career—at a pretty sedate speed down the road,” Bhatt said.
He said which testing on public roads is actually necessary to ensure the safety of the technology before which’s deployed for widespread use. “which technology has been tested on tracks as well as roadways,” Bhatt said. “So which, at some point, had to happen. To the extent we can deploy which technology, which will help save lives as well as reduce congestion. So to me, which is actually the whole purpose.”
For whatever short-term concerns about the rigor of safety benchmarks for testing which fledgling technology, there’s potential for massive, long-term safety benefits. In 2015, there were 4067 fatalities on U.S. roads in crashes involving large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. which’s an increase of 4.1 percent via the previous year, as well as which comes amid a series of high-profile crashes involving tired truck drivers.
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Overall, 94 percent of all traffic crashes are attributable to human error or human behavior, according to NHTSA. Eliminating those errors, for Anheuser-Busch as well as Otto, is actually one of the biggest benefits of which self-driving technology.
“By embracing which technology, both organizations are actively contributing to the creation of a safer as well as more efficient transportation network,” said Otto co-founder Lior Ron. “We are excited to have reached which milestone together, as well as look forward to further rolling out our technology on the nation’s highways.”