Santa needs to get with the times. Instead of relying on a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer — which is, admittedly, pretty cool — he might want to consider getting some kind of self-driving vehicle. Until Kris Kringle updates his rig, though, Otto will drag Christmas into the future by using its autonomous semi-truck to deliver pine trees for a San Francisco nonprofit.
That group is called the Guardsmen. Each year it opens a Christmas Tree Lot where people can purchase trees, ornaments, and other holiday decorations. Volunteers help people get their Christmas tree on their vehicle or arrange delivery to their homes. Proceeds from the event are used to support at-risk youth in the Bay Area.
But how do all those Christmas trees reach the lot in the first place? Well, this year it involved a few Otto employees loading 200 trees onto the back of one of their autonomous trucks. Check out a video of the trees being delivered right here:
Otto notes that the truck was being driven in “manual” mode. But the company, which was acquired by Uber shortly after it revealed its plans to bring the first autonomous big rigs to market, will doubtlessly flip the switch to “self-driving” in the future.
The ability to switch between those two modes is core to Otto’s vehicles. In October the company made its first delivery of 50,000 cans of Budweiser. That trip required a driver to guide the vehicle from brewery to highway, then the self-driving system handled it from there.
Still, it is the first to deliver a bunch of Budweiser and Christmas trees. The only way this whole thing could get more American would be for Otto to paint bald eagles on the sides of its trucks and exclusively deliver fireworks to football games. Until then, at least, some needy kids will go to camp or school because people bought those pine trees.