Driverless Truck Movement Gains Momentum in U.S.

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November 25, 2016

Driving down two roads in Ohio soon will be a truck driven by no human.

The self-driving truck from a company named Otto will go down a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33, through regular traffic on a four-lane divided highway. A human will be in the truck and will be able to assume control easily, if needed.

A sophisticated system of radar and camera sensors, coupled with high-tech computer software, helps guide the vehicles down the road.

Also paying close attention will be officials from the Transportation Research Centre, which is based in East Liberty. The stretch of road on which the test will take place runs from that township to Dublin. Also planned is a test of the self-driving truck on a part of the Ohio Turnpike; officials had not yet announced the exact part of the 241-mile toll road on which that test would take place.

Those will be the second and three tests of the self-driving truck technology in relatively quick succession. Otto also recently tested a self-driving semi-trailer truck in Colorado. That vehicle delivered 2,000 cases of beer from Loveland to Colorado Springs, a journey of 120 miles along Interstate Highway 25, through the busy traffic of the state capital, Denver. Otto officials said that the human onboard did not have to once take the wheel.

Uber, a high-profile taxi alternative company, owns Otto, which was started by Anthony and Ron Levandowski, both of whom worked on the pioneering self-driving car efforts of Internet search engine giant Google.

The U.S. is not the country in which companies are trialling driverless vehicles. Late in 2015, Germany trialled a self-driving truck on the Autobahn and China trialled a self-driving bus in the busy city of Zhengzhou.

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