After years of talk and research, self-driving vehicles are now on our roadways. Tech companies like Uber, who was the first to test self-driving trucks in 2016, and others like Ford and GM are leading the push.
Many in the trucking industry are excited about the potential for driverless semi-trucks. Shipping companies believe that they will be able to move cargo more efficiently and inexpensively.
Engineers are developing driverless semi technology that are showing impressive results. A tech startup called Embark recently outfitted a truck with its self-driving equipment that completed a 2,400-mile trek from Los Angeles to Jacksonville without human aid.
What Are The Benefits of Autonomous Semi-Trucks?
Driverless trucking tech promises increased efficiency to the shipping industry. More and more cargo needs to be moved every day, and with the current shortage of truck drivers, autonomous trucks would allow companies to ship more using fewer drivers.
Autonomous trucks are able to operate at any time of the day, which means they can avoid rush hour traffic. They also don’t get tired or need to have breaks, avoiding the dangers of fatigued driving by truckers.
Driverless trucks will also be able to improve the safety record of the trucking industry. Trucks are involved in hundreds of thousands of collisions every year that result in thousands of fatalities.
Autonomous vehicles eliminate the dangers that come when drivers get tired or become distracted by their phones. They would also be able to analyze data from onboard sensors that would warn them of problems in advance.
Potential Dangers of Autonomous Trucks
Many trucking industry experts say driverless technology still needs years of testing before autonomous vehicles will be ready for the road.
Critics say proper research and development are being overlooked by tech and manufacturing companies who only want to speed up the process to make a profit. Every company wants to be the first to have its self-driving vehicle on the road.
There is a good amount of regulation within the trucking industry to keep employees and the public safe. Federal rules cover such things as maximum drive time for drivers and when they are required to take a break.
On the state level, rules decide how heavy and large trucks can be as well as other operational requirements.
Trucks are large, unwieldy machines that present a set of unique dangers for other motorists on the road. A collision with a semi can easily cause multiple fatalities.
There is as of yet no regulation when it comes to the operating of autonomous vehicles on our highways. There simply is not enough information about the new industry to create effective regulation.
Even the most reliable computers break down and need to be repaired. Of course, when your home computer breaks down, no one’s life is at risk. Not so with a self-driving truck computer.
Automotive malfunction is a common occurrence, and many things can cause a truck to break down. This is true of driverless trucks as well. A bump in the road or a loose wire could cause the computer to malfunction and send the truck veering off the road.
All driving scenarios will need to be programmed into the truck’s computer system in order to perform safely. Every curve in the road has its own angle, and some streets become extremely narrow.
Computers will need to know to take turns slowly. If the driverless truck’s computer hasn’t been properly programmed properly, a truck could overturn.
The onboard computer will also need to know how to react to adverse weather conditions. An experienced driver knows how to deal with rain or snow, but if a computer can’t process the data correctly, it might not slow down and could cause an accident.
Humans can collect environmental stimuli, process this information, and take action at incredible speeds. Current technology is simply still not as fast as the human mind.
Current computer systems being tested in driverless trucks use sensors to detect weather and other changes around the vehicle.
But these sensors can only recognize objects relatively close to the truck. Trucks’ size and weight require more time to react than other vehicles. When a truck doesn’t stop in time, the results are never good.
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Truck Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Texas truck accident you need to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Colleyville office directly at 817.485.8888 to schedule your free consultation.