Vehicles that drive themselves are starting to appear in articles and on the news more and more frequently. An entire generation is looking forward to the day that they can eat breakfast or even snooze while traveling in their car. The day that becomes a reality seems to still be pretty far off, but many theorize that self-driving long-haul trucks are just around the corner.
The Benefits of Self-Driving Trucks
The trucking industry contributed more than $600 billion to the economy in the United States alone in 2014 and there are approximately 33,000 fleets of trucks. More so than with private cars, automating trucks would be an incredible boon to the economy. Additionally, trucking is a very demanding career, with trucker shortages continuing to increase. There are regulations that keep drivers from working too many hours in any day. If the trucks were self-driving, they could be in operation 24 hours each day, which will lighten the load on the drivers. It may seem like self-driving trucks would leave thousands of truckers without jobs, but the trucks still need operators at all times for the more technical processes and in case of malfunction.
The technology for automated vehicles is still being developed. Driving is such a complicated task, it is very difficult to program. This is another reason long-haul driving is perfect for implementing this technology. With much less starting, stopping, turning, and maneuvering through traffic, driving a truck is significantly simpler than driving a smaller vehicle. In fact, this level of AI is already in the prototype phase by Google, Audi, and, most notably, Mercedes.
A Platform to Further Develop the Technology
Unless you are a trucker or manage truckers, all this information might not seem to apply to you. However, there is one reason that this development is significant for everyone. Creating automated trucks will serve as the window to creating all kinds of automated vehicles. There are already plans for automated trucks to hit the roads in 2025 (see 2290tax.com), but many suspect it could be a reality as soon as 2020. If you simply cannot wait for the day you can sit back and let your car drive you to work, you should keep a close eye on what’s happening in the trucking industry.