Driverless Trucks Are Coming – And Sooner Than You Might Think!

Move over science fiction, because driverless vehicles are fast becoming science fact and that’s going to have a major impact on the haulage industry.

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(businesspress24) - If you still think driverless trucks are closer to science fiction than science fact you might want to think again; a number of big names are testing vehicles now, some of which could be on the roads in the next few years!

Technology companies like Microsoft and Apple are already working behind the scenes with names like Mercedes, while Waymo, Google and Alphabet have joined forces to work on a driverless vehicle project. Other players in the field include General Motors, which is working with Lyft on the technology, and Tesla, which is determined to be one of the first on the road.

Driverless Trucks

But while much of this advancement is taking place in the car industry, there are also important moves being made in the haulage industry to create the first generation of driverless trucks. One of the leaders in the field is Otto, part of the Uber group, which, under the direction of its co-founder, former Google self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski, has created a truck which has already transported a load of beer 120 miles across the US on auto-pilot.

Levandowski believes that despite recent scare stories, driverless trucks will actually be safer than traditional vehicles once the technology is there.

At Embark (whose team includes former SpaceX, Audi and artificial intelligence specialists Stanford Al experts), they have built an autopilot system which can actually learn. It uses sensors, radars and cameras to make judgements about its environment which it can then use to refer to in future situations.

A View of the Future

The term driverless trucks is a little misleading as – for the foreseeable future anyway – this technology will be overseen by a driver (or perhaps they should now be termed as pilots, as the task will be more like the flight of an airplane on auto-pilot). The driver’s role will be to monitor the technology and oversee the truck’s progress.

Of course, this level of automation is going to have a huge impact on the haulage industry, on the way fleets are run and managed and drivers trained. For this reason the industry bodies and haulage companies themselves have an important role to play in shaping this future.

Already the Trucking Alliance Board of Directors (representing eight haulage companies which together manage 68,000 trucks and employ around 52,000 people) has passed a resolution saying that it “supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.”

The Trucking Alliance has welcomed these advancements in vehicle technology because it believes they can improve safety levels, although they stress that this is only when combined with, and overseen by, a human driver.

While we may not quite be at the Transformers stage where vehicles are thinking and driving themselves yet, there is so much going on in the automated driver field that it’s important for fleet managers and haulage companies to keep one eye on the future.

Technology in this sphere is moving fast, with all the major players investing in it, so make sure you and your team know what’s coming so that you are ready to embrace this brave new world, and see what it can do for you and your company.

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Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange is the leading service for matching haulage jobs with available vehicles. They also provide expert articles on topics likedriverless trucks and other issues in the freight industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe ''wholesale'' environment.

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Date: 05/18/2017 - 13:14
Language: English
News-ID 1504528
Character count: 2285
Firma: Haulage Exchange
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Stadt: London
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