Can a driverless tractor trailer truck be the wave of the future? Daimler Trucks North America seems to think so because they have recently introduced, with considerable fanfare, a self-driving truck, the first licensed commercial truck that is capable of operating independently in the United States.
Although many strides have been made technologically to make driverless vehicles a reality, the legal system has been playing catch up for far too long. Only four states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws that have any say with regards to self-driving vehicles. With self-driving vehicles, and trucks in particular, a virtual certainty for future transportation, a national conversation about standardized rules for these cars and trucks is essential.
Drivers More Essential Than Ever
Many truck drivers have been resistant to the idea of self-driving trucks because of their perception that it will put them out of a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, truck drivers would be even more important. Drivers can be doing other tasks en route such as taking stock and managing delivery inventories; furthermore, since these drivers would be taking on duties beyond being paid for the miles they traverse, they may see their wages increase as well.
Human on Board
Any state that has made any kind of legislation regarding self-driving vehicles insists upon a driver being present in the vehicle, which eliminates any possibility of a truck transporting goods without anyone aboard. With drivers free to do other things, trucking companies may find their truck cabs being converted into mobile offices.
There are still several hurdles to clear before these self-driving tractor trailers become a reality, but the future is coming sooner than you may think, and the driverless vehicle may be the one taking you there.