Heavy haul Self Driving Trucks May Come before Self Driving Cars

Despite the current awe of self-driving models such as Tesla’s semi-autonomous Model S and Uber’s self-driving taxis, the recent buzz about self-driving cars may soon turn into news about trucking’s imminent autonomous future. According to Alain Kornhauser, head of Princeton University’s Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Program, heavy rigs are well suited to automated technology. For this reason, implementation of automation may be popular in trucking before it peaks for average drivers. The bulk of heavy haul journeys happen on the highway and interstate, where lanes are visibly marked, surfaces are smooth, and sharp turns are rare. Smooth, predictable terrain makes it less likely for a heavy haul truck to be navigating around cracked or broken roadways.


Additionally, the use of most highways is reserved for automobiles and excludes the possibility of bikes, pedestrians, and running children unexpectedly obstructing the truck’s path. The same cannot be said about self-driving cars, which must regularly maneuver through towns, bustling cities, and busy neighborhoods. Kornhauser makes sure to highlight the point that “self-driving” does not equate to “driverless,” despite the fear of truckers being replaced by new technology. If self-driving heavy haul trucks permeate the industry, truck drivers will still be in the cab, monitoring the vehicle and ready to intervene if necessary. This set up may alleviate fears that technology is making the job of a truck driver obsolete.

According to Kornhauser, the switch to automated rigs will make truck drivers’ jobs safer and less stressful, as opposed to eradicating them completely. Within the cab, screens that will do whatever drivers need throughout the journey while still offering a clear view of the road would surround drivers. While we still do not have a clear picture of how a future with self-driving fleets may look, there is no doubt that the technology is getting closer and closer to the marketplace with each passing year.

At LTA Logistics, we use the most efficient means of transport available and have extensive knowledge in long haul transit. If you have needs pertaining to heavy haul equipment transfer, do not hesitate to contact us at (888) 502-0582 to learn more.

2 Comments

  1. You make a great point that self-driving heavy hauling trucks would be a lot easier to make safe than the self-driving cars we see in the news. I worry about the safety of the self-driving technology, but I think long range trucks are the best potential adopters of the technology. I would add that since the truck drivers would still need to monitor the truck, we don’t have to worry about much job loss in the transition to automation.

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