Transportation technology firm Otto and brewery Anheuser-Busch have hailed the world’s first commercial delivery carried out by a driverless vehicle on public highways as a success.
The companies teamed up to deliver a truck fully loaded with Budweiser more than 120 miles across the US state of Colorado along the I-25 highway, from Anheuser-Busch’s plant in Loveland to the city of Fort Collins.
While a human driver was present in the vehicle at all times to monitor the journey, once the truck entered the interstate, he left the wheel and tracked the system from the sleeping area, allowing the truck to complete the journey from exit to exit without intervention.
Otto, owned by ride-hailing company Uber, stated that the use of autonomous vehicles will have a major impact on road safety, as well as improving the efficiency of the haulage industry, boosting the utilisation of trucks and dealing with issues such as driver shortages.
Co-founder of Otto Lior Ron said: “The incredible success of this pilot shipment is an example of what is possible when you deploy self-driving technology. It also showcases the importance of collaboration with forward-looking states like Colorado and innovative companies like Anheuser-Busch.”
The advent of driverless vehicles is a trend that all road designers will have to become familiar with in the coming years, and steps will have to be taken to ensure they are able to navigate safely and easily. For example, intersections, signage and traffic lights may have to be redesigned or equipped with additional sensors that can communicate directly with vehicles.
This will be something that is particularly important if heavy goods vehicles are equipped with autonomous technology, although Otto is confident that the developments will actually make the roads a much safer place.
It noted that nearly half of road fatalities happen on highways, with 94 per cent of these being the result of human error, which could be eliminated by the use of autonomous vehicles.