As with any radical new technology, there’s going to be a lot of skepticism. Daimler emphasized its autonomous trucks are not intended to replace drivers. They went so far as to claim a driver will always be required, though I suspect at some point in my lifetime I’ll be writing about truly driverless trucks. That’s a long way off, though.
Autonomous trucks bring benefits to driver, shipper and fleet owner. Most truck crashes are caused by the driver and self-driving trucks have the potential to eliminate a lot of these incidents. The computers never tire or have a bad day, as even the best drivers do. There are efficiency gains to be had as well; Daimler predicts fuel economy can improve by about 5% using autonomously-driven trucks. And the profession too could receive some renewed interest, especially from young people who are tech-savvy and enjoy interacting with highly-sophisticated technologies such as what would be found within the autonomously-driven vehicles. And before long, this technology won’t even seem so radical. There’s already lots going on in the pass-car (as they say in Europe) world in relation to autonomously-driven vehicles (ie. the Google car).
So, do we really need autonomous trucks? Probably not. But the early adopters may have a competitive advantage and if they work as well as claimed, and could drive the more widespread adoption.
For a full report on the demonstration, go here.
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