Driverless trucks are about to become a common sight on our roads. Current prototypes have been proven to work fantastically and are arguably much safer than human-driven vehicles. Driverless trucks are also projected to save companies lots of money, so we can expect to see quite a few of them rolling out in the near future.
It’s Already Happening
Driverless trucks are currently being tested and used on freeways across the world. In April 2016, a driverless truck challenge involving multiple European countries took place. The goal was for each participating country to have a fleet of autonomous trucks drive themselves all the way to the Netherlands. All the trucks successfully arrived, proving to many that driverless trucks are the way of the future. A company called Otto has taken these “road robots” a step further and has actual plans to have their own driverless trucks on the road completing commercial deliveries.
Safer and Smarter
Trucks driven by humans have historically been responsible for countless traffic fatalities, many of which are caused by drivers becoming distracted or simply falling asleep at the wheel. Driverless trucks, by their nature, are not subject to this risk. Current driverless prototypes are capable of driving non-stop for several days. By eliminating the danger of fatigued drivers, driverless trucks make a convincing case for their use.
Driver Assistance Technology
While we may not be seeing fleets of driverless vehicles on our roads just yet, we’re already using a lot of the same technology that driverless trucks will employ. Everything from GPS vehicle tracking devices to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can be found in modern fleets. Intelligent navigation and collision avoidance technology has already made its way into our daily lives—it’s not too much of a leap to guess that it will soon be taking a driver-free form in the near future.
Driverless trucks are expected to save companies millions. Deliveries will arrive faster, fewer accident compensation payments will be made, and payroll costs will be lowered. If you are concerned about job loss, don’t get too worried. The trucking industry is experiencing a driver shortage—for the time being, driverless trucks may just fill existing gaps in the workforce.
There are still a few issues preventing driverless trucks from going mainstream. These trucks are still illegal in many parts of the world, but some US states have already begun legalizing them. Many people are still vehemently against these machines due to safety concerns, which will hopefully be resolved by driverless vehicle manufacturers in the years to come. Like it or not, road robots are coming to a freeway near you. It could be a bumpy ride at first, but hopefully all the hiccups will be paved flat as soon as possible.