Details from the Recent Automated Vehicle Symposium
Driverless trucks are loved by some and vilified by others. What was once a futuristic concept may soon be a viable alternate to traditional commercial vehicles. What does this mean for drivers? While autonomy won’t overtake the industry in the near future, a recent event centered around automated vehicles predicts that Americans will see these vehicles on the road by 2021.
The Automated Vehicle Symposium brought together experts in the area of driverless technology, with many claiming that self-driving trucks will see integration into US fleets within a few years. Management from many major carriers, including U.S. Xpress, noted the slow but steady progress of autonomous technology and spoke about the benefits it can provide.
U.S. Xpress is one of the largest and most successful carriers in the US. Management said the main benefits for switching over are clear. Large companies must work to cut costs while improving the experience of everyone they work with, whether it be employees or clients.
From making the roads safer to treating the driver shortage to helping meet customer demand, autonomous trucks will bring many benefits to carriers once the technology is refined.
The symposium made it clear that experts expect Level 4 autonomous capabilities on America’s road ways within four years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines a Level 4 autonomous vehicle as one that can drive itself in most situations, with some exceptions, such as weather or construction, where a human may need to take control.
While some view this technology as something that should be welcomed, others view at as one that still has a long way to go. While it is feasible that these vehicles could see regular use by 2021, there are a number of regulatory and safety situations which may need to be addressed along the way.
Some long-time truckers have brought up the unique accidents and hazards they’ve experience on the road, claiming their ability to adjust quickly allowed them to avoid catastrophe. While humans are good at adjusting on the fly in most cases, computers can falter if proper protocols are not programmed in.
For truckers and carriers, the freight transportation industry may soon be changing once trucks to the road with an empty driver’s seat.