No driver—no problem. Driverless trucks have been delivering beer between major Texas cities.
- A new test program has delivered more than 1 million pounds of Modelo and Corona beer between Texas cities with a new driverless vehicle.
- The test drives started in April and have traveled 220 miles a day from Dallas to Houston.
- The pilot program was a joint effort between Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo and American producer and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits Constellation Brands.
Why it’s news
Self-driving cars have been a topic of discussion for many years as car makers attempt to perfect autonomous software.
Google has officially delivered 1 million pounds of beer using its driverless vehicles, through a test program.
The test, which started in April, is being done with the trucker C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. and Google’s self-driving unit Waymo. The companies are delivering the freight in Class 8 trucks using Waymo’s self-driving software and a safety driver behind the wheel, according to Bloomberg writer David Welch.
The route from Dallas to Houston is a good test, according to head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo Charlie Jatt. He said the route the cars take has plenty of fog, rain, and lots of bugs that could potentially interfere with the system’s sensors and lidar.
“We saw really good maturity and performance from the system,” says Jatt. “There were no harsh brakes or swerving events.”
There are more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., according to U.S. Census data. Drivers are typically on strict schedules to ensure that they are not getting tired behind the wheel, but with driverless freight there is no need for that. If driverless trucks become the norm they will not have to take breaks thus delivering items quicker and more efficiently.
The company is yet to say when the vehicles could be run completely driverless, but Jett said it isn’t too far in the future and assures that it is something the company is definitely working toward.
This test could blaze a trail for other companies to adopt self-driving vehicles and could be the answer to truck driver shortages.
This isn’t the only step towards driverless vehicles—robotaxis have also been hitting the streets.
The self-driving car business Cruise, mostly owned by General Motors, is planning to expand its robotaxi fleet to Phoenix and Austin.
The robotaxi is a self-driving car that picks up passengers like a regular cab, but there is no driver. Cruise states that it focuses on safety, sustainability, and inclusivity in its vehicles to make the roads a safer place.