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Today’s trucking technology could be yesterday’s news before you know it


When I first started this job more than a year ago, I never would have imagined that technology would be such a huge part of what I write about.

Well now it seems the race to put the first all-electric semi-truck on the road is on, as one of the most eminent vehicle manufacturers in recent years has taken to social media to pronounce its plans to do just that.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, replying to a direct Tweet, took to Twitter to say that Jerome Guillen, who used to lead Daimler’s truck division prior to joining Tesla as its vice-president of programs, was working on and making progress on the semi-truck project.

Daimler company Mercedes-Benz unveiled an all-electric truck in Germany recently, which many said would rival what Tesla plans to put out.

In Musk’s ‘Master Plan, Part Deux’, which outlines what Tesla will be working on for the coming years, he indicates that in addition to consumer vehicles, there is also a need for electric heavy-duty trucks.

“We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate,” Musk writes in the plan.

He also indicates that as the technology matures, “all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely,” adding that once the software is refined and far better than the average human driver, it will still be some time before driverless vehicles are permitted in all jurisdictions.

It’s crazy to think how fast all of this has come on – vehicles driving themselves. It’s like those sci-fi movies I used to watch as a kid that warned you how computers would take over the world are all of a sudden coming true.

I was in Las Vegas not long ago for the World of Concrete show and ventured down to Fremont Street one evening and saw Arma, a driverless shuttle bus developed by Navya that had just launched its test run transporting people up and down east Fremont Street between Las Vegas Blvd. and Eighth Street.

I didn’t get on, mainly because the 12-person shuttle was full every time I saw it, which means people seem not to be too worried about there being no human behind the wheel.

Or perhaps its 27 mph (43 km/hr) max speed factored in to their bravery.

A driverless semi-truck on the highway going 60 mph (96 km/hr) might prove more of test of that fearlessness.

Much like a cellphone, circa 2010, outdated and obsolete when compared to today’s extravagant comparisons, we could very well be entering an era of fleeting technology, with fuel efficient devices and engines, single-wide base tires, fancy oils, aerodynamic designs, and alternative fuels.

If the pace of technology maintains its present stride, and governments around the world are willing to accept it by permitting its use, we could see a real-life Maximum

Overdrive scenario before we know it – minus the fuel and all the crazy trucks trying to kill people stuff. OK, maybe that was a bad analogy, but you get my point…who needs a driver when you have, like Musk said in his report, ‘software that is better than the average human driver?’

The problem with a driver shortage could be coming to an end. Let’s just hope the computer hacking issue is figured out as well so I don’t have to bring up that horrible Stephen King movie again.


Derek Clouthier

Derek Clouthier

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels. derek@newcom.ca @DerekClouthier
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