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Anheuser-Busch completes ‘world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck’

By Rachel Arthur+

26-Oct-2016
Last updated on 26-Oct-2016 at 14:30 GMT2016-10-26T14:30:12Z

The self-driving truck covered 120 miles across Colorado.
The self-driving truck covered 120 miles across Colorado.

Anheuser-Busch and Otto have used a self-driving truck to haul a trailer of Budweiser across 120 miles (193 km), heralding it as a milestone for the transportation industry.  

The self-driving truck traveled along the I-25 from Fort Collins in Colorado, through Denver, to Colorado Springs. The beer came from Anheuser-Busch's facility in Loveland, Colorado. 

The two companies say the truck completed the route entirely without driver intervention, although a driver was in the vehicle to monitor its journey (you can find out more about the journey in the video below).

“This milestone marks the first time in history that a self-driving vehicle has shipped commercial cargo, making it a landmark achievement for self-driving technology, the state of Colorado, and the transportation industry,” says Anheuser-Busch.

It adds that self-driving long haul trucks are “no longer a matter of imagination, [but] present viable, real-world opportunities that can be fully unlocked in the next few years.”

But why are self-driving trucks of interest to Anheuser-Busch?

James Sembrot, Sr. Director, Logistics Strategy at Anheuser-Busch, said that the company is always looking for new innovation and technology in transportation. As the largest brewer in the US, it ships more than 1.2 million truckloads every year.

In the case of the self-driving truck, a human driver is still involved with pickup and loading. However, once on the interstate highway, the truck can become self-driving: ‘one switch and it’s driving itself down the road’.

The advantage of this is that drivers would be able to rest on long stretches of highway, thus offering the potential to extend productive hours without compromising on safety. 

Anheuser-Busch and Otto, a company concerned with revolutionizing transportation and self-driving trucks, say such technology could provide a solution to the driver shortage that puts pressure on drivers to work long hours. 

They add that such technology could reduce the number of fatalities on the roads (many accidents are caused by human error, with nearly half of fatalities occurring on highways); and reduce emissions through fuel-efficient driving.

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