Car Industry

Autonomous-trucking startup Otto comes out with retrofit-ready self-driving tech

Trucks outfitted with Otto's tech are already out testing on California highways.

Now playing: Watch this: Semi trucks gain self-driving powers with Otto
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Look, ma, no hands...or legs, or head, or body.

Otto

If you want to get involved with the future of trucks, your options are still quite limited. You can drop $375,000 on a turbine-powered electric truck that may never exist, or you can spend a pretty penny picking up one of Freightliner's autonomous rigs. But what if you're not flush with cash? It appears that a startup called Otto has the solution.

"Otto's aim is to solve the harder and more important self­driving challenge first by introducing the technology to the highways and making trucks fully autonomous," the startup said in its release. Its tech includes sensors, hardware and software that can be retrofit onto current trucks to grant them full autonomy, with the driver acting as more of a supervisor.

To prove its viability, Otto currently has 3 Volvo VNL 780 trucks on California highways, testing out the company's kit. The company, which is entirely self-funded, has not yet given any details regarding when this tech would be available, and how expensive it would be. All it's said is that its autonomous-driving kit would "cost only a small fraction" of a truck's MSRP, which can stretch well north of $100,000.

Otto is self-funded because several of its bigwigs have been quite successful in other tech ventures. Co-Founder Anthony Levandowski used to work on Google's autonomous-car project, co-founder Lior Ron worked as the product lead for Google Maps. Its other employees have tons of experience in self-driving cars and tech, be it from Google, Logitech, Stanford and beyond. That's a pretty solid team, so odds are good that Otto is sticking around for a while.