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A Beer Run With No One Behind The Wheel

By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4)- It was a beer run like no other. A semi delivered 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs on Oct. 20 without a driver behind the wheel.

"One switch and it's driving down the road," the driver says in a promotional video shared by Otto.

Otto, owned by Uber, is the self-driving vehicle company that completed the 120-mile long commercial delivery last week. They said it is the first commercial shipment of its kind.

(credit: CBS)

"The incredible success of this pilot shipment is an example of what is possible when you deploy self-driving technology. It also showcases the importance of collaboration with forward-looking states like Colorado and innovative companies like Anheuser-Busch," said Otto Co-Founder Lior Ron in a statement.

The Colorado Department of Transportation took part in the project, ensuring public safety was top of mind. CBS4 spoke with CDOT's executive director about the unique beer delivery who said self-driving vehicles will eventually make the state's roads safer.

"In a future where cars and trucks can drive themselves, I think everybody is going to be safer," Shailen Bhatt told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Bhatt said Colorado State Patrol was also involved and four patrol units escorted the self-driving semi during its trip. That journey happened overnight, Bhatt explained, when traffic was at a minimum.

In Otto's promotional video, the truck is seen cruising down Interstate 25 and at one point the driver leaves his sit to move to the back. CBS4 questioned if that move was legal.

"It's not that it's legal, it's more that it's not illegal," Bhatt said. "And this is a function of technology outpacing our laws."

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Anheuser-Busch (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

That video also shows the truck traveling during the daytime, not overnight when the test run with CDOT and CSP took place.

"That is that grey area that I can't tell them that they can't do it," Bhatt said.

Laws are expected to change as self-driving vehicles become more widely used. The unique beer run is just a glimpse of what's on tap.

(credit: CBS)

"This is something that we believe is ultimately going to make the roads safer in Colorado," Bhatt said. "This is all about taking that number of 35,000 Americans being killed on the roads, 548 in Colorado just last year, and reducing that number."

Bhatt added that the test was a "one-time thing" so drivers do not need to be looking for trucks with no one behind the wheel.

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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