Autonomous trucks or vehicles, in general, are basically vehicles that are self-driven. An autonomous vehicle will utilize a wide range of sensory techniques to detect the surroundings to drive safely on the road. The basic idea is to eliminate the need for a driver.
The biggest beneficiary of such trucks will be the businesses who are into manufacturing. This is because they have to transport a lot of raw materials or finished goods from their factory to their storehouse or elsewhere and this often requires them to travel a great distance. With no driver in these trucks, the transports can be done without them taking any breaks, increasing delivering rates.
And of course, they save on labor cost.
Although autonomous trucks haven’t yet been put into public or commercial use, countries such as Singapore and the United States (US) are working hard to pass the testing phase and get autonomous trucks in use and on the market.
In the case of Singapore, the country is looking to introduce autonomous trucks for large-scale transportation. Their goal is to introduce enough autonomous vehicles as a form of public transport. The city, with its limited land, is already congested with the locals and foreign businessmen. Almost everyone owns a personal car, resulting in traffic congestion. As it stands, Singapore wants to reduce traffic congestion and, by introducing autonomous trucks, they hope to encourage the use of public transportation.
These trucks or vehicles will be working like a bullet train by carrying passengers back and forth. However, the downside of a country as skilled as Singapore is that there are very few people willing to work as a bus or a truck driver. A majority of the population is highly-skilled and trained in other professions.
Thus, the intense focus on bringing autonomous vehicles. This will eliminate the need for a driver, meaning everyone can carry on doing their job. But at the same time they will be using public transportation, which will reduce traffic congestion.
In a country like the U.S., truck drivers will often have to travel across from one state to another, often through rough terrains and rocky paths. In a lot of cases, these terrains can be treacherous for a truck driver. Driving a truck is considered a very stressful task, and it just becomes tougher in challenging weather conditions such as snow and ice.
Autonomous trucks, on the other hand, utilize sensory detectors and other technologies that supposedly read the road better than a normal human being can.
This will enable autonomous trucks to avoid accidents in treacherous conditions. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. is actively working on getting autonomous trucks ready for commercial use and on the market.
As well as saving trucks drivers from treacherous conditions and improving public transportation in Singapore, there are multiple other advantages of auto driven vehicles. People with disabilities preventing them from driving could benefit from the help of autonomous vehicles. Similarly, elderly people who are no longer allowed to drive would also enjoy the benefits of fully auto-driven cars.
Still, not everyone is on board with the idea of autonomous vehicles.
While most of the world’s leading companies such as Otto, Tesla and Daimler think that autonomous vehicles are the future, there are groups concerned about the safety of autonomous cars and trucks. Their main worry is that these computer-run vehicles do not have the judgment of a human being. Their sensory detectors could be tampered with and a malfunction could end up causing deadly accidents.
They fear that if a malfunction does occur there won’t be anybody who is going to be held responsible for the loss of life.
But the same points can be seen from a different perspective.
According to Babcock Partners, LLC, a Louisiana based law firm specializing in truck accident cases, of the nearly 4000 truck accidents that occur in any year, at-least a third of them can be somehow attributed to human error caused by the driver. Speeding and driving while distracted are the two most common in fatal truck accidents, and they believe a robust autonomous driving system can positively address both.
It is encouraging that big named companies such as Tesla, Uber and even Google have been working nonstop to further improve the system and it appears we are closer to a wide-scale commercial launch than ever. Their test drives and trial runs are already taking place before these cars are put in public hands.
In the previous century, people thought ordinary cars were dangerous and moved too fast compared to horse-drawn carriages. But now large populations are driving vehicles with no concern. Everyone wants to step into the futuristic world and autonomous vehicles are the ones who will lead us there.