WIRED's Alex Davies accounts details of the world's first autonomous truck delivery. The vehicle, owned by Uber's Otto, traveled 120 miles from Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs to deliver 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer.
Although a back-up, professional driver remained inside the vehicle throughout the entire journey, the truck traveled the route safely and without intervention. Otto, the San Francisco-based start-up behind the project, is made-up of a group of ex-Google employees and was bought by Uber for $680 million last summer.
Its technology works only on the highway, where it doesn’t have to deal with tricky variables like jaywalking pedestrians, four-way stops, or kids on bicycles. It maintains a safe following distance, and changes lanes only when absolutely necessary. And unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, Otto’s system offers true ‘Level 4’ autonomy. Once the rig hits the interstate, it is entirely capable of the job at hand, letting the human deal with paperwork, thumb her phone, or even catch a few Z’s.