Not only does it deliver beer, but it Otto’s self-driving truck has better reaction times than a cop, says Mark Savage, the deputy chief of the Colorado State Patrol. What’s not to love?
Months after Otto made the first autonomous beer delivery, Savage is still talking about how great Otto’s truck performed in that 140-mile midnight to 3 a.m. beer run. The entire tone of the transportation industry and the police force has shifted from general skepticism to impressed.
Before Otto’s test run in October, Daniel Murray, the vice-president of research at the American Transportation Research Institute, said he was highly skeptical of the technology. But after seeing it in action, he is now totally on board. He used to estimate that autonomous trucks wouldn’t be in commercial use for 15-20 years, but now thinks we will have self-driving trucks on the road in the next 5 years.
The likely hiccups for autonomous trucking are regulatory questions, not technological ones, Murray told Truck.com after a panel at the Transportation Research Board Meeting in Washington DC on January 10. The Department of Transportation created the Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation the day of Otto’s autonomous beer trip. Murray says the creation of the committee will likely speed up the regulatory process and the public reaction has been quite positive.
After watching Otto’s truck predict that a passing car would slow down after pulling in front of the eighteen-wheeler before the passing car hit its break lights, Savage was sold. Because of his participation in the delivery, he says that he feels that even if we don’t totally understand new technology, we have to be prepared for how quickly things can change.
For truck drivers who wouldn’t be in control on long stretches of highway, change is likely to come in how they interact with their deliveries. Since autonomous deliveries of the future won’t get a five-cop escort, we will still need truck drivers to supervise potentially valuable cargo, suggests industry analysis – like those 51,744 cans of Budweiser.