Former engineers from Google, Tesla, Apple and Cruise Automation have jumpstarted a new company that will specialize in self-driving trucks called Otto. Engineers who worked on Google's self-driving car have joined hands to create hardware kits that can be installed on pre-existing trucks or can be built into trucks at the manufacturing phase. They are currently using a Volvo VNL 780 truck as a test subject but say they will be trying Class 8 trucks. They say there are 4.3 million commercial trucks in America as it is.
This doesn't mean truck drivers are being cut out of the equation, not by any means. The truck drivers will be able to override the 'auto-pilot' and navigate loading and unloading as they would in the past. The one thing the truck might do for them, however, is navigate the highways autonomously. Daimler and Volvo have also been looking into implementing self-driving technology into their trucks, but based on their promotional video, it seems Otto has it down already. The retrofitting-nature of the Otto truck hardware might just be a big selling point in the market of self-driving trucks. The competition is heating up.
"We intend to enhance the capabilities of the Otto truck, collect safety data to demonstrate its benefits, and bring this technology to every corner of the U.S. highway system," say the founding engineers of the project. The co-founders are Anthony Levandowski and Lion Ron who have worked on the self-driving technology that Google is telling congress they should make mainstream in all states in the United States.