Otto, a company founded by ex-Google engineers put self-driving mechanisms inside a Volvo truck this past week. Anthony Levandowski, Lior Ron, Don Burnette, and Claire Delaunay, alongside former employees of Tesla and Amazon, decided to take the self-driving technology on a new route.
According to The New York Times, Levandowski has harnessed a dream for making a self-driving car for years. He left his former job at Google to focus solely on the project. Currently, Otto houses three Volvo trucks that Levandowski and his team have added cameras, radars, and spinning laser sensors to. The Otto team has decided to focus on trucks more than cars because of the cost. A brand new big-rig costs about $150,000. With this price point, it makes it easier to justify the added technology that racks up the bill as well. Otto is looking to either offer the technology as an upgrade or subscribed service that carriers can get for their drivers.
If you are a truck driving reading this in horror about the possibilities of lost jobs, you are not alone. But, Otto is not looking to decrease trucking jobs for hard working drivers. Instead they want to work WITH drivers to make it easier, and faster to get to their destinations. It is obvious, that not every road would be safe to the self-driving feature on. With that being said, Levandowski poses the possibility of having the car scan the terrain, and then when there is, say 500 miles of open roads, the driver can take a nap. This way, there is no stopping needed, the trucks will get to their destinations faster, and the drivers will be well rested and ready to take over when they awake.
Otto has theirs eyes set on owner-operators, as their first consumers. Drivers who own their own trucks will be able to make more shipments in allotted amount of time, and in return make more money. While they do welcome any and all to jump on their self-driving truck bandwagon, Otto knows it’s going to be a long shot.
Levandowski tells The New York Times, “It will take a very time to transition three million people. However, it’s also the nature of progress.”
A New World With Sleeping Drivers
How does this story make you feel as a driver/carrier? Still scared? Like Levandowski states, it will take a LOT to get everyone on board, especially government and highway regulators. But, if it does come to fruition, would your business be happy to take a rest while the truck does the work? There is a lot to be talked about in the coming years over self-driving trucks.
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