Self-driving cars may be on their way, but a driverless truck has already arrived. Self-driving truck company Otto completed its first delivery in October, a 120-mile journey through Denver traffic with no one behind the wheel.
In August, Uber bought Otto for $680 million. Morgan Stanley estimates that self-driving trucks could save the trucking industry $168 billion a year, and about $70 billion of that would come from labor savings.
About 3.5 million Americans work in trucking, one of the last well-paying fields available to people without a college education. Self-driving technology could soon replace some of those workers.
Self-driving trucks are expected to take over highways sooner than self-driving cars because highway driving is an easier technological challenge to solve. “There’s hopefully no pedestrians, there’s no stop lights, it’s easier to automate or have a self-driving vehicle on the highway most of the day,” Otto co-founder Lior Ron told VICE News correspondent Ravi Somaiya in Denver.
Otto trucks use a variety of sensors to read the road to decide when to accelerate, steer, or hit the brakes. Otto claims its technology is likely much safer than a human driver.
So, you’ve been replaced by 3 LIDARs, a camera, and a radar?
Otto is still testing its trucks, but it expects to sell a kit for tens of thousands of dollars to make any truck drive itself.
This segment originally aired Oct. 25, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.