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Uber's self-driving truck company completes a 120-mile beer run

Otto's Volvo big rig navigated the I-25 between Fort Collins to Colorado Springs completely by itself.
Matt Brian, @m4tt
10.25.16
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If you're in Colorado and grab a can of Budweiser, it's possible that you might be sipping beer delivered by Uber's autonomous truck company. Today, Otto confirmed that on October 20th, it "completed the world's first shipment by a self-driving truck," a delivery that involved transporting 2,000 cases (or 51,744 cans) of Bud from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs along Interstate 25.

Although impressive, this "world first" is mostly promotional. The Verge reports that a human driver first navigated the truck from a Anheuser-Busch depot to a weigh station in Fort Collins. From there, Otto's self-driving technology was deployed and the Volvo big rig drove the remaining 100 miles to Colorado Springs without any outside assistance. Once it entered the city, the driver -- who monitored the journey from the sleeper berth in the back -- resumed control and completed the final manoeuvres.

With Uber's self-driving cars taking to US streets and Otto now starting to make its first shipments, the company is finally starting to realise its vision as a logistics company. Right now, deliveries are marketed as a step towards a "safe and productive future" across US highways, allowing drivers to rest while their vehicle does the hard miles. However, with Uber's rapid expansion into cities worldwide, it likely won't be long until it's self-driving trucks can negotiate confusing inter-city streets too.

To mark the Budweiser milestone, Uber is now inviting potential partners to enquire about its haulage offering, which it's now calling Uber Freight. "Our partnership with Anheuser-Busch is just beginning," says the company in a blog post. "Our companies are excited to transform commercial transportation together."

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