If your goal is to win people over to the idea of driverless cars, this could prove a clever strategy.
Otto, a self-driving technology company acquired by Uber in July, made the world’s first commercial beer delivery in an autonomous truck earlier this month.
The autonomous 18-wheeler truck drove itself, and 51,744 cans of Budweiser, from Anheuser-Busch InBev’s brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs around 210 kilometres away.
At least 90 per cent of that journey was down Interstate 25. According to Otto, the truck’s driver spent most of the trip out of the driver’s seat, although he kept a close eye on proceedings from the vehicle’s sleeper berth.
According to Bloomberg, the autonomous beer delivery truck was escorted along its route by state police.
The route was reportedly meticulously scoped out by Otto in advance to ensure that it could be handled by the truck’s self-driving software.
The time of the drive, during the early daylight hours of Thursday October 20, was chosen because traffic would be light, and the visibility good thanks to the clear weather.
In a statement, Anheuser-Busch InBev said that it could save around US$50 million ($65.6 million) on annual US shipping costs if it was able to use self-driving trucks in its fleet.
That number reportedly accounts for a human driver on board every truck, with savings coming from more a frequent delivery schedule and increased fuel economy.