Uber's Autonomous Truck Completes 120-Mile Beer Run

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An Anheuser-Busch autonomous tractor-trailer drove more than 51,000 cans of beer across Colorado this week, marking what it says is the "world's first" self-driving truck delivery.

The journey was made possible by Otto, a San Francisco-based startup recently acquired by Uber. Its truck hauled 2,000 crates of Budweiser from Fort Collins, through Denver, to Colorado Springs.

"This shipment is the next step towards our vision for a safe and productive future across our highways," Otto said in a blog post.

Using cameras, radar, and lidar sensors mounted to the vehicle, Otto's system could "see" the road, controlling acceleration, braking, and steering without human intervention. The company's professional driver, in fact, spent the entire 120-mile ride monitoring its progress in the back of the cab.

Thursday's journey was made less than six weeks after Uber introduced autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh. A fleet of hybrid Ford Fusions are now roaming the streets of the Steel City, branded with Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) logo and outfitted with an array of sensors. The ride-sharing company then snatched up Otto, which comprises former Google, Apple, and Tesla employees.

Commercial trucks currently move 70 percent of all cargo in the US. But until drones start making home deliveries, that number is expected to increase to keep up with growing consumer demand. With that comes highway fatalities and a declining quality of life for drivers.

Now, when you pass a truck with no one in the driver's seat, "you'll know that it's highly unlikely to get into a collision, drive aggressively, or waste a single drop of fuel," the blog said, tipping future endeavours with Anheuser-Busch.

That's likely cold comfort for the country's truck drivers, many of whom make good money criss-crossing the nation making deliveries. For now, however, officials in the US are still working out driverless vehicle regulations, so it will be a few years before ghost trucks start passing you on the highway.

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