Startup Watch: Otto

Otto is a hot new startup in the autonomous trucking space. They just landed a splashy article on the front page of The New York Times.

Otto, led by 15 former Google engineers, including major figures from the search company’s self-driving car and maps projects, is aiming at the long-haul freeway driving that is the bread and butter of the commercial trucking industry.

Beware any startup that is lead by 15 people, even if they are all former Google engineers.

That said, their approach seems terrific.

Their beachhead appears to be with owner-operators who drive their own trucks, because autonomy can help them stay on the road for more hours every day, which means more money in their pockets.

Also, presumably, those individuals are less risk-averse than big trucking companies that might have legal liability worries.

The article plays up the trucks vs. cars race to autonomy, but that seems like more of a sideshow to me.

Autonomous trucks are related to, but distinct from, self-driving cars and it makes sense that startups would exist to specifically target that market. Ultimately, I doubt Otto cares whether it beats Google cars to market, as long as they can gain a lock on the trucking industry.