Focused on autonomous trucks, former Googlers form Otto
It’s no secret major tech interests like Google and Apple are working on self-driving car concepts. But, autonomous trucks? That’s the focus of new San Francisco-based company Otto, which was formed by two former Google employees and joined by heavy hitters from Apple, Tesla, Cruise Automation and others.
Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, formerly the technical lead of Google’s autonomous car division, and co-founder Lior Ron, previously Google Maps’ product lead, put the company together to “help transform our transportation system and bring safety to our roads,” according to a blog post.
Levandowski and Lior co-founded Otto along with Don Burnette and Claire Delaunay; the company current comprises 40 staffers and seven dogs. Otto is advertising a number of open positions ranging from software and mechanical engineers to class A drivers and recruiters.
“It’s time to rethink the way we move goods on the road,” the blog post notes. “We are committed to reimagining transportation — not just improving it. At the heart of our vision is the belief that self-driving tech is the key for creating a more sustainable, productive — and above all, safer — transportation future.”
This video gives you an idea of what Otto has in mind for autonomous trucks.
“To speed the adoption of self-driving technology, we began by equipping existing trucks on the road with our unique self-driving kit, designed to empower truck drivers to drive more safely and efficiently. We are developing a suite of sensors, software and truck enhancements coming together in a product that can be quickly outfitted on existing trucks. Testing the technology is currently underway on highways with our research fleet, and we recently completed an autonomous demo of the technology on a public highway. 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.
“This is a critical effort, with wide reaching implications for all of us, that requires cooperation between government agencies, the private sector, truck fleets, drivers, manufacturers and the brightest engineers. It’s time to move.”
IndustrialIoT5G Lead Contributor David Pringle took a look at early tests of autonomous trucks, which are based on a platooning model, and considered the myriad benefits and attendant political will.
“Of course, full-blown commercial deployments won’t happen this year or next,” Pringle wrote. “Instead, there will be a gradual ramp up of trials and tests. Assuming these are successful, platooning is likely to begin transforming the transport and logistics industry within the next five years. The ultimate impact of this technology on both our economy and our lives could be profound.”