The Verge reports on Uber’s first real-live self-driving truck shipment, hauling Budweiser from Loveland, Colorado, to Colorado Springs:
The truck — a Volvo big rig equipped with cameras and sensors — was one of five owned by Otto, a San Francisco-based self-driving truck company acquired by Uber in August. A human driver piloted the truck to a weigh station in Fort Collins. From there, it drove 100 miles without human intervention to Colorado Springs, with the driver monitoring the two-hour trip from the sleeper berth. But once it entered the city limits, the driver took control.
“There were people in Colorado Springs this weekend drinking a Budweiser that was delivered by a self-driving truck,” James Sembrot, senior director of logistics strategy at Anheuser-Busch, told The Verge. “So that’s pretty cool.” (The cans even bore a message that read: “First delivery by self-driving truck.”)
A Colorado state patrol vehicle followed the beer-laden truck from a distance to monitor the journey. The truck maintained an average speed of 55 mph throughout the trip. According to Ron, the state patrolman who followed the truck said it was “super nice” to see a truck stay safely in its lane for most of the trip.
Instead of building its own trucks, Otto designs hardware kits for existing truck models. The truck that completed the beer delivery was equipped with this setup: two cameras for lane detection, a LIDAR sensor to create a 3D environment, two front-facing radar sensors to detect obstacles and other vehicles on the road, and a GPS sensor to help pinpoint the truck’s location. Otto also mapped the route by driving one of its kitted-out trucks back and forth along Interstate 25 in advance of the delivery.
Photos and video of Otto and the robot-truck-branded beer cans at the link.