Whilst driverless cars have received significant media attention, there is just as much research, and commercial, interest in driverless trucks. Indeed, earlier this year saw a convoy of six semi-automated trucks make their way across Europe to the port in Rotterdam in ‘platoon’ style whereby a number of trucks are run very close to each other to thus reduce fuel consumption.
The transition from a human powered vehicle to one operated by a machine however is still somewhat uncertain. A glimpse into how this transition may unfold however comes via a new startup called Otto.
The company, which was created by a group of former Google employees, initially developed tools to help drivers, but as the technology has evolved it is increasingly capable of taking full responsibility for the trucks.
The technology turns a traditional commercial truck into a self-driving vehicle, with the company recently announcing successful test drives of the new package, which you can see in the video below.
Whereas traditionally, the transition to driverless technology would require a completely new vehicle, the Otto service merely provides a modification of an existing truck. The device, which costs around $30,000, keeps the vehicle in a single lane and at a constant speed, albeit with the capability to stop if required.
A driver will probably remain in the cabin, and Otto is capable of alerting them should they need to intervene. If the driver fails to respond to this request, Otto will find the nearest safe spot and pull over.
It is currently working with a number of regulators to ensure the technology is legally allowed to operate, but with the technology costing a mere fraction of a new rig, it might be a telling glimpse into the way we will transition to a driverless world.
Check out the video below and let me know your thoughts in the comments.