When it comes to the future of transportation, self-driving trucks are clearly at the forefront. Tesla and TuSimple, two autonomous trucking firms, have already made the news with their achievements in the industry.
Autonomous trucks will undoubtedly disrupt the transportation and logistics industries, but when and at what price? TuSimple expects to get their technology operational by 2024. Others may be following closely behind.
The advancements have had truckers questioning where they will stand when self-driving trucks reach the roads, and they aren’t the only ones. The US Department of Transportation recently produced a document entitled Driving Automation Systems in Long-Haul Trucking and Bus Transit, which included a preliminary review of how automation may affect the trucking workforce.
One thing seems certain: human drivers will be required for a long time to come. Let’s take a look at self-driving trucks and the industry as a whole, so you can see where this technology is going.
How do they work?
Self-driving trucks and vehicles use cutting-edge technology that incorporates a variety of components that regulate and communicate data to software. Sensors, algorithms, actuators, computers, and machine learning are just a few of the components.
Self-driving vehicles and trucks are equipped with specific equipment that is required for successful autonomous operation. The following are examples of such equipment:
Radar sensors are used to figure out where other cars are on the road.
Radar sensors are used to figure out where other cars are on the road. o interpret traffic signals, road signs, and monitor people.
Lidar sensors estimate distances, detect road borders, and recognize lane markers by bouncing light pulses off the vehicle’s surroundings.
Ultrasonic sensors are installed on the wheels to see obstacles and other cars when parking or pulling over
Each piece of hardware’s input is converted into truck software, which creates a digital map and controls actuators such as speed, brakes, and steers.
The level of autonomy of self-driving semi-trucks and vehicles is assessed on a scale.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has defined six levels of driving autonomy, ranging from 0 (completely manual) to 5 (completely automated) (fully autonomous).
The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy of the United States Department of Transportation likewise employs this six-level scheme.
Should Truck Drivers Be Concerned About Self-Driving Vehicles?
Truck drivers are unlikely to lose their jobs to self-driving trucks in the near future. Why? The self-driving trucks that are ready for deployment will not be completely self-contained. Drivers will be required to keep an eye on the road and deliver goods. At least, in the beginning, the use of self-driving trucks will be restricted.
Another factor is the high cost of self-driving trucks. The majority of trucking businesses in the United States have 20 or fewer vehicles, with 90% working with six or fewer. Approximately 97 percent of the trucking business is made up of companies with fleets of less than 20 trucks.
These tiny businesses lack the financial resources to invest in self-driving vehicles. Prices may fall as technology progresses and automated trucking becomes more popular. These trucks will, however, take some time to find their ways into small fleets.
Regardless, self-driving trucks are expected to reach the road ahead of self-driving cars, at least in terms of widespread use.
Investors have flocked to self-driving truck businesses, and the commercial argument for self-driving semi-trucks is compelling. Autonomous transportation has the potential to save expenses and generate income for businesses.