Otto – The Self-Driving Truck Delivers


Face it. While not everyone is in favor of them, autonomous vehicles are definitely gaining a foothold in the market. They may evolve features and functions over the next few years, but they are certainly becoming part of the road.

One of the latest developments was the first commercial shipment using a self-driving vehicle this fall in Colorado. The cargo? More than 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer!

The trip was the result of a partnership between beer-maker Anheuser-Busch and Otto, a self-driving technology company owned by Uber. The project, with support from the State of Colorado, demonstrated a trip of 120 miles, from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, without a driver in the seat during the entire stretch of the highway. The autonomous driving system used cameras, radar, and sensors to guide the truck. Otto’s system controlled the steering, acceleration, braking, and navigation.

The importance of this use of autonomous driving has big implications for transit and safety; nearly 70% of products we buy are brought to market on long-haul trucks. While a human still has to load the truck and guide it through the city to a highway exit, once the truck is on the expressway the driver can relax in back until the destination exit is reached.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show Otto’s Web site and view the video of the trip:
  2. Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
  3. Break students into teams. Have each team build a SWOT analysis grid for Otto’s truck self-driving technology, .
    1. Strengths: what is company good at?
    2. Weaknesses: what needs work?
    3. Opportunities: what is going on in marketplace?
    4. Threats: what should company be wary of?
  4. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  5. Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.

Source:  Wired, Tech Crunch, other news sources


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