Semi-Autonomous Trucks & The Future of Trucking
Self-driving trucks are quickly becoming a reality, but truck drivers still have an important part to play.
Semi-autonomous trucking has been in the testing phase for a few years now with the hope that these vehicles will revolutionize the trucking industry. Environmentally, self-driving trucks will be able to reduce fuel bills by as much as 7%, saving thousands in fuel costs per truck every year.
While self-driving cars need to be able to navigate anywhere from crowded city streets to rural back roads, freight trucks spend most of their time on long stretches of highway. There will still be a demand for drivers to help those semi-autonomous trucks navigate exit ramps, crowded city streets, and loading docks.
How it Works
Companies are designing semi-autonomous trucks that can reduce fuel costs while also hauling more freight at one time. A caravan of trucks traveling down the highway could be connected through cloud technology and use safety features such as active braking and lane control. These trucks are not being designed to take the trucking industry away from humans but reduce potential errors and increase road safety.
Man & Machine Working Together
It will be a few years before the industry sees these trucks on the market – some researchers predict anywhere between 2022-2025. Even as they become more available, it will still be important to have experience and well-trained drivers. Most trucks are designed to cruise in the right lane at a steady speed, but they are not prepared to pass in the left lane or navigate through bad weather. Drivers of these trucks will be able to override the automation and take over at any time.
More testing and development will need to be logged before self-driving trucks join the ranks, so drivers have plenty of time to prepare for this exciting new opportunity!