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The first self-driving car you see may be an Uber truck on the highway

Up close with Otto and its $680 million autonomous tech.

The cab interior of a self-driving truck as it drives on  a highway Otto
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The first time you see a self-driving car, it may not be a car. It may be a semi-truck, speeding alongside you on the highway.

If that notion makes you flinch a bit, you’re not alone. But technologists who are betting on self-driving technology have a compelling argument that trucks + interstates are a natural early step for autonomous vehicles.

That’s one of the reasons Uber bought Otto, a brand-new self-driving truck startup, for $680 million last month.

You won’t see an Otto truck on the road today. But when and if you do, you may feel better knowing that company’s lineage traces back to Google’s self-driving car research.*

Another thing about self-driving trucks — they make for really cool videos. Here’s one generated from Otto’s own footage.

And here’s one featuring my colleague Mark Bergen, who got a close-up look at the trucks, and shared it live with Facebook.

* Google may feel less good about this.

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