OTTO surfaced this week to let the world know that, if they have anything to say about it, self-driving trucks may be on the roads before autonomous cars.
How? Because OTTO is developing a retrofit kit that will give standard driver-controlled semi trucks the ability to self-drive.
The startup company was just founded in January by former employees from Google, Apple, and Tesla, and already has 40 employees in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California.
Along with the technical developments, the company is dealing with roadblocks that are part of the state and federal trucking laws. For example, will a driverless truck be required to obey current driver on-duty hours limitations in place now? Or, will an autonomous truck be able to drive 24/7, in effect doubling its capacity and utilization. OTTO's concept is that self-driving technology, especially in the commercial transport market, will be safer and more economical.
Otto has already bought and retro-fitted three Volvo cabs with lidar, radar and cameras, and driven a handful of fully autonomous miles — without even a safety driver — on the highways of Nevada. It says its aftermarket self-driving kit will sell for a “small fraction” of the $100,000-$300,000 price of a new tractor cab.
For a quick Q&A with Otto co-founder Lior Ron, click Zerohedge.com here:
Then, eavesdrop on Backchannel.com's conversation with Ron here: