Beer Run - The First Commercial Delivery by a Self-Driving Truck

On October 20, 2016, a self-driving tractor-trailer traveled 120 miles down a Colorado highway and made a delivery of 51,744 cans of Budweiser beer. This incredible technological feat was accomplished by Otto, a San Francisco start-up that was purchased by Uber in August 2016 for $680 million. The cans of beer had a special message printed on them “First delivery by a self-driving truck.”

This first self-driving delivery was a complex endeavor that required collaboration between Otto, Budweiser and the state of Colorado. The truck was required to make the trip eight times with the driver behind the wheel before the first driverless delivery was allowed to proceed. The State took extra effort to make sure there were no abandoned vehicles on the side of the road and also worked with the road construction partners to make sure there was no unexpected construction on the route. The driverless truck was accompanied by four Colorado state police patrol cars and three vehicles from Otto. The professional driver did pilot the truck to the highway then hit the switch that turned on the self-driving equipment. He then retired to the cab for the rest of the trip on the highway.

What might this mean to the trucking industry in the future? The proponents of this technology cite several positive benefits, including increased safety. Since 94% of accidents are caused by human error, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, Otto believes that an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle would increase safety. Also the developers assume that there would be increased fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. Lastly, proponents argue that the technology will increase truck utilization and allow truckers to rest or sleep in the cab on long hauls. They see the technology working to relieve the driver shortage. While truck drivers will never be replaced, this technology could create a situation similar to airline pilots who use autopilot to fly the plane.

We do not know how soon we will see this technology in widespread use, since there are still many technological and legislative barriers to overcome. What we do know now is this technology is closer to being commercialized, and some Colorado residents were able to enjoy a beer with the message “First delivery by a self-driving truck.”                                 

Contact us with questions and visit our Transportation and Logistics Industry page to learn moreabout services that we offer the industry.

You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours

The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

© 2020 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.

our thoughts on

Announcing the Second Annual Ohio Trucking Association and Schneider Downs Transportation Business Outlook and Economic Survey
Innovation and Implementation of New Technology in Manufacturing
FMCSA Proposes Promising Pilot Program
Ransomware Postpones First Day of School for Hartford Students
U.S. Car Manufacturing at Risk?
Is Your Chip Card Implementation Secure?

Register to receive our weekly newsletter with our most recent columns and insights.

Have a question? Ask us!

We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note, and we’ll respond to you as quickly as possible.

Ask us

contact us

Map of Pittsburgh Office

One PPG Place, Suite 1700
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
p:412.261.3644     f:412.261.4876

Map of Columbus Office

65 East State Street, Suite 2000
Columbus, OH 43215
p:614.621.4060     f:614.621.4062

Map of Washington Office
Washington, D.C.

1660 International Drive, Suite 600
McLean, VA 22102