As beer runs go, this one stands out. Anheuser-Busch hauled a trailer loaded with beer 120 miles in an autonomous-drive truck, completing what’s believed to be the first commercial shipment by a self-driving vehicle. The trip happened last week in Colorado as Anheuser-Busch, collaborated with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber that is developing self-driving truck technology.
“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.
Ron and three others founded Otto earlier this year after he and others left Google where they worked on the Google self-driving car project. In August, the firm was acquired by Uber, but remains a subsidiary developing the technology for self-driving trucks.
As Otto has demonstrated the capabilities of autonomous-drive trucks, companies such as Anheuser-Busch have taken notice. There are approximately 3.6 million class 8 trucks in the U.S. with professional drivers logging more than 279 billion miles in 2014 according to the American Trucking Association.
When Anheuser-Busch made the shipment in Colorado, a professional truck driver was in the rig monitoring the delivery from the sleeper berth behind the driver’s seat.
“As we partner with long-haul carriers to ship our beers, we hope to see this technology widely deployed across our highways to improve safety for all road users,” said James Sembrot, Sr. Director, Logistics Strategy at Anheuser-Busch.
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