It’s begun, everyone: the world’s first commercial shipment via driver-free truck has just been completed. The cargo? Well, a human staple, of course: beer. 51,744 cans of Budweiser, to be exact.
In addition to unleashing a fleet of self-driving Volvos in Pittsburgh, Uber also joined with Otto, a driverless truck startup, reported Bloomberg in August. American brewing company Anheuser-Busch got in on things, too. Together, the three helped complete a driverless beer haul from Fort Collins through Denver to Colorado Springs.
That’s more than 120 miles of driverless beer-trucking. A professional truck driver was present the whole time, keeping an eye on things from the sleeper cabin. The truck made the entire trip without any driver intervention.
Otto says that safety is a top priority. It writes:
One major opportunity for Otto’s technology is that drivers will be able to rest during long stretches of highway, and perhaps even catch up on sleep. That begs the question of whether the driver is “on-duty” with respect to hours of service laws while they are resting. To ensure the safety of all road users, these laws limit the number of hours truck drivers can work each day. Naturally, this also limits how much money drivers can make. Otto’s self-driving technology has the potential to extend productive hours without forcing drivers to choose between safety and earnings.
This is a fair point. However, there is concern that these driverless trucks will eventually replace human drivers altogether. Then, choosing when to drive or when the system should take over would no longer be an option for many.
But, like all things, trucking and truck driving is an evolving industry. Today’s beer transport is the start of it.