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Sciences Academy Panel Sees Self-driving Trucks on Road in Five Years
Autonomous trucking is coming faster than expected—perhaps within five years, according to panelists at the Transportation Research Board’s 96th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
In October 2016 an autonomous truck operated by Uber subsidiary Otto delivered 51,744 cans of Budweiser beer 120 miles across Colorado—from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs—with no driver at the wheel, though one was in the cab.
Mark Savage, deputy chief of the Colorado State Patrol, was impressed with the beer delivery. He said that the self-driving Otto technology had quicker reaction times than he did. The truck at one point sensed traffic ahead and slowed, so a car that was passing the truck would have room to decrease its speed and still pull in front of the truck.
Beyond the trucks, Uber is working to streamline the process of brokering loads. Data show that it currently takes 20 phone calls and four person-hours to wrangle a load, a truck and a driver.
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