Driverless truck delivers 50K cans of Bud on supply run
One 120-mile beer delivery does not make driverless trucks a done deal, but it certainly raises the prospect that it could be in the not too distant future. As widely reported, an 18-wheeler owned by Otto, an automated trucking company acquired by Uber in August, picked up 50,000 cans of Budweiser from an Anheuser-Busch facility in Loveland, CO and delivered the load to its destination in Colorado Springs. A human driver navigated the vehicle into a weigh station in Fort Collins and from there the truck completed the remaining 100 miles of the trip on its own.
“There were people in Colorado Springs this weekend drinking a Budweiser that was delivered by a self-driving truck,” James Sembrot Sr., senior director of logistics strategy at Anheuser-Busch, told The Verge. (The cans included a message that they were part of the “first delivery by self-driving truck.”)
Transportation officials in Colorado were pre-briefed on the trip and a state police officer followed the vehicle on its journey. The truck, which maintained an average speed of 55 miles per hour, remained safely within its lane as it made its way to Colorado Springs.
One of the primary goals of the technology, according to those involved in the pilot, is to reduce injuries and fatalities on the road.
According to a joint release put out by the participants in the test, automated trucks will give drivers the ability “to rest during long stretches of highway, and perhaps even catch up on sleep.” Because laws limit the amount of hours drivers can work on a weekly basis, the automated trucking technology offers an opportunity for them to be on the road longer without sacrificing safety.
Another benefit is improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions.
“Anheuser-Busch is passionate about innovation and exploring ways to improve the safety, sustainability, and efficiency of the industries our business touches …” said Mr. Sembrot. “As we continue to partner with long-haul carriers to ship our beers, we hope to see this technology widely deployed across our highways to improve safety for all road users and work towards a low-emissions future.”
- Otto and Anheuser-Busch Partner to Complete World’s First Commercial Shipment By Self-Driving Truck – Anhueser-Busch/Otto
- Uber’s self-driving truck company just completed its first shipment of 50,000 cans of Budweiser – The Verge
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What role do you see for automated trucks in the retail supply chain? How long before this form of commercial delivery becomes commonplace? Do you see downsides?