It is very likely that you will soon witness a self-driving truck next to you on the highway. The world keeps taking a step further into the tech field, sparking innovative solutions for automotive companies. The automotive industry is highly competitive and many automotive companies are working very hard to stay ahead and take part in one of the greatest advancements in trucks.
Trucking plays a very big role in this industry to the extent that it is worth $700 billion, making it a very attractive target for cost-saving robotic solutions. There is a variety of benefits for this new form of technology. To start with, 70% of products distributed around the US are transported by trucks and one of the industry’s biggest problem is the scarcity of truck drivers, making it hard to keep up with rising shipping demands. Therefore, if self-driving trucks were successfully created, the intensity of the job would significantly drop and drivers would only need to take control of the truck in specific situations. There is no doubt that this autonomous technology will help trucking companies reduce labor costs in the long run. The American Trucking Association is encouraging the new tech and has called for new federal laws that could help inventors and researchers take this technology to the next level. Billions of dollars a year are spent on accidents that are largely caused by human errors, and the self-driving technology has the potential to minimize, or even eliminate, this issue.
Autonomous trucks are facing some technological obstacles. Trucking companies need to make sure that the sensors and code in the robotic truck match the situational awareness of a professional human driver. Professional truckers have years of experience and have become familiar with how to react in case of road hazards, poor surface conditions, and unpredictable car drivers. Additionally, if the technology reaches a point where no truck drivers are needed, this would create a massive spark of unemployment, as it will affect the millions of truck drivers in the world. Just in the US, there are about 1.7 million trucking jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statics.
Self-driving trucks have already been tested and executed on highways by the startup Embark. It delivered refrigerators to South California early October while a human driver rides on the back to make sure the computer chauffer is working well. It is very likely that in a couple of years, these “self-driving” trucks will actually be “self-driving” and human supervision will no longer be needed. Multiple companies are now testing self-driving trucks and say they will be hitting the market really soon!