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.
No hands needed.
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.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies