Self-driving vehicles are becoming more of a reality on roadways as companies refine the technology and make it safer. Large trucks are next in line for automation.
Commercial vehicles already are a risk to others on the road due to their size and weight. When there is no driver in control, serious safety concerns arise. Forbes explains that the industry still has many hurdles to overcome before self-driving trucks become commonplace.
Other countries are already testing the feasibility of self-driving semitrucks on their roadways. However, before autonomous trucks roll out in the U.S., local agencies will have to create or adapt roadways to accommodate these vehicles. The suggestions for adjusting the infrastructure include:
- Addition of lanes specifically for these trucks
- Parking lots for driver pickups
- Telecommunication advancements that allow for tracking of the vehicles
The government will also have to redesign regulations for drivers and decide how hours of service will work when truckers are not behind the wheel.
Bringing this type of vehicle to the roads could cost jobs as there will be a need for fewer drivers, although the current shortage of drivers indicates this may not become an issue. However, concerns regarding safety are still viable because the industry admits the technology is not foolproof, and much more testing is necessary.
There may also be issues regarding how autonomous trucks will drive in adverse weather conditions, such as snow. In addition, commercial vehicle manufacturers and trucking companies will have to change the public’s perception of autonomous vehicles, which is still on shaky ground.
If the industry can manufacture autonomous trucks and integrate them into the system, it could help cover the shortage of drivers and meet the increased shipping demands of the influx of online shopping. The need for warehouse personnel would also increase because there would be more trucks to load.