Trucks

First self-driving truck delivers Budweiser, thanks to Uber and Otto

The beer might be light, but the underlying achievement is pretty weighty.

Otto

For now, the truck's self-driving capability is limited to highways.

Otto

Back in May, startup Otto unveiled its retrofit-capable tech that can turn a regular semi truck into an autonomous vehicle. Now, just a few months later, it's completed its first shipment without driver input.

Otto today announced that its self-driving semi, in conjunction with Uber's fledgling freight division and brewer Anheuser-Busch, delivered a shipment of dirty water disguised as something called "Budweiser" from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs. The Volvo truck relied on a series of radar and lidar sensors, plus cameras, to complete the drive. The driver, who was present for safety's sake, monitored the truck on the highway.

It bears mentioning that the whole trip wasn't done autonomously. Otto's system is meant to reduce the strain of highway driving. When it comes to tight, urban driving, the driver is still needed.

To celebrate the occasion, Anheuser-Busch created a set of special cans commemorating the autonomous drive. A small Otto logo rests above text that states, "First Delivery by Self-Driving Truck," which is kind of neat. Hey, at least it's not called America anymore.

There's still a long way to go with this technology, of course. But once these trucks start making interstate trips (provided the law allows), pushing the limits of the truck beyond that of human stamina, then the real celebrations can begin. Who knows, maybe the trucks will carry actual beer at that point, too.