This segment originally aired Oct. 25, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Self-driving cars may be on their way, but a driverless truck has already arrived. Self-driving truck company Otto completed its first delivery in October, a 120-mile journey through Denver traffic with no one behind the wheel.
In August, Uber bought Otto for $680 million. Morgan Stanley estimates that self-driving trucks could save the trucking industry $168 billion a year, and about $70 billion of that would come from labor savings.
About 3.5 million Americans work in trucking, one of the last well-paying fields available to people without a college education. Self-driving technology could soon replace some of those workers.
Self-driving trucks are expected to take over highways sooner than self-driving cars because highway driving is an easier technological challenge to solve. “There’s hopefully no pedestrians, there’s no stop lights, it’s easier to automate or have a self-driving vehicle on the highway most of the day,” Otto co-founder Lior Ron told VICE News correspondent Ravi Somaiya in Denver.
Otto trucks use a variety of sensors to read the road to decide when to accelerate, steer, or hit the brakes. Otto claims its technology is likely much safer than a human driver.
Otto is still testing its trucks, but it expects to sell a kit for tens of thousands of dollars to make any truck drive itself.