A familiar sight on most any highway, transport trucks have long been the go-to method of land-based hauling for everything from food to consumer goods. This will continue into the foreseeable future, but with a twist that will change this industry to a huge degree: the trucks will be self-driving.
Autonomous cars have received much publicity in recent years, but still seem like the stuff of science fiction. Meanwhile, scientists have also been developing this technology for use in transport trucks. Such an application would be unfortunate for the thousands of men and women who currently make their living as drivers. However, removing the human element from the equation could greatly reduce the number of accidents that occur due to fatigue and/or distraction.
Also, because these machines do not need downtime for sleeping, rest breaks, or eating, goods will arrive faster at their destinations. By law, humans cannot spend more than 11 hours at a time behind the wheel; a driverless truck could spend all 24 on the move, save for fuel fill-ups. The number of truck drivers has declined in recent years, meaning there are not as many vehicles on the road as needed. Autonomous transports could plug that gap very effectively.
In fact, self-driving trucks are already on the road, hauling refrigerators from Texas to California. At the moment, a human driver is also riding along to monitor progress and the program’s operation. However, when the makers feel that any and all bugs are gone, the human being will be, too.
The question at this point is whether increased acceptance of autonomous transport trucks will lead to faster adoption of driverless cars. Technology, marketing, and price are huge factors, of course, but once the advantages of driverless trucks become obvious, it is likely that manner people would seek to have that same option with their personal vehicle.