Budweiser’s Autonomous Beer Truck

PC: Gideon Haden Chomphosy

According to the Brewer’s Association, overall beer sales in the United States reached $105.9 billion last year. In other words, Americans enjoy beer. That being said, we don’t normally think of beer as a high-tech operation. How much technology could possibly go into putting suds into bottles and cans, after all? While micro breweries maintain that brewing is an art, large-scale breweries recognize that brewing is a science, and breweries that distribute globally have to make use of industrial automation in order to meet demand. Soon, however, the technology involved in beer could be even more advanced than just motion control and industrial automation.

We know that robots are already dabbling in craft brewing, but there’s been another exciting development in automation and beer. It’s difficult to imagine anything more riveting thanĀ  bearded robot brewmasters diligently crafting the perfect IPA, but automated brewmasters aren’t the only robots joining the beer industry. Otto recently developed a self-driving truck capable of autonomously hauling beer from brewery to barroom.

Otto builds a beer truck for Budweiser

Otto – a self-driving technology company owned by Uber – developed a self-driving truck that transported 2,156 cases, or 51,744 cans, of beer from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs. By this point, a self-driving vehicle doesn’t really pack that much wow factor. We’ve seen cars drive themselves across the country. However this is the first time a vehicle of this size and weight made a completely self-driven trip on the interstate. The autonomous Budweiser truck made the 120-mile drive without any human intervention.

Big news for beer, and big news for transportation

Sending a few thousand cans of beer down the road in an automated beer truck is a novelty. Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Budweiser, is the largest brewery in the United States. They spill more beer during the course of a year than most small craft breweries could hope to produce. Shuttling a single truck of Budweiser to a town 120 miles down the road isn’t going to upend the system. However, Budweiser’s self-driving truck is an exciting advancement with huge potential, and not just for breweries.

The feat is proof of concept. It’s possible to send fully-loadedĀ  self-driving freight trucks on a delivery using busy interstates while surrounded by human drivers. Should this technology be perfected, it would greatly benefit not only breweries, but any manufacturer or business that relies on trucking lines to get goods to their customers. Soon the trucker occupation, and all of the mystery and lore that surrounds it, could be a thing of the past.