- An Otto self-driving truck hauled a full trailer of Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser beer more than 120 miles via I-25 from Fort Collins, CO to Colorado Springs, Market Wired reported on Tuesday.
- This historic journey marks what the companies are calling the first successful trip of a self-driving vehicle transporting commercial cargo.
- The trip was accomplished with the support of the Colorado Department of Transportation's innovative RoadX program, which aims to apply modern technology to infrastructure challenges.
Skeptics of self-driven trucks frequently argue the technology will not soon reach mass implementation in the highway given the slow nature of government regulation and highway safety concerns.
Sure, the Otto trip was less than 150 miles, but the self-driven truck's successful commercial trip proves governments are eager to collaborate and the technology can safely operate in highways and through dense metropolitan areas (the truck drove through Denver, CO on I-25). In addition, the video of the trip shows drivers are still essential to monitor the technology, so they will not be replaced.
Don't believe it? See the video on the trip, below (focus between 1:20 to 1:35).
The technology's success also raises a few regulatory questions, though, which may give credence to skeptics' arguments.
First, given mass application of the technology alongside error-prone human drivers accidents are likely — self-driven cars have already recorded some incidents. Does the legal responsibility for the accident fall upon the car-maker, the technology provider, or the driver monitoring the vehicle? The Department of Transportation opted to let the states decide this question in their most recent guidelines.
Second, how does this impact logging requirements and hours of service? Will monitoring self-driven vehicles be an equally paid job for truck drivers, and equally regulated?
Regardless, the success of the first commercial trip is a big win for self-driven truck advocates.