Self-Driving Trucks: Could This Benefit Truck Drivers
The future of trucking is ever changing. As technology advances and self-driving trucks become more and more likely, it’s understandable to get concerned about how it will change the trucking industry. Will truck driving be automated? How will autonomous trucks work? Will it take away the need for truck drivers or could self-driving trucks be good for truckers?
The questions above are a little bit scary and the future of trucking is unknown, but here’s our take on how things will shake out. Read on to find out why we think that self-driving semi trucks could actually be beneficial to truck drivers.
How a Self-Driving Truck Might Work
Before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s first discuss what this technology might look like. Since there aren’t currently any autonomous semi trucks on the market, it’s hard to know exactly how it would work, but here’s what we do know.
Tesla’s Autopilot Technology
Self-driving cars were brought to the market and made popular by Tesla. The autopilot technology that Tesla has deployed allows cars to change lanes and adjust speed without driver intervention. However, this technology is not without its kinks. While you can utilize this functionality best on highways, it is not yet safe to be using on surface streets.
Autopilot for Trucks
Since the majority of truckers spend their time on highways, one could say that Tesla’s current functioning functionality (autopilot on highways) could be beneficial for truckers. It allows the driver to remove his/her hands from the wheel while still staying engaged, focusing on the road, and frequently demonstrating alertness. This would allow the driver to maintain safe speeds while also keeping the driver focused and alert.
Autonomous vs. Semi-Autonomous
It’s important to point out that while we may refer to this type of technology as self-driving or autonomous, that’s not completely accurate. The technology we’re talking about would still require human intervention. A driver would still need to be ready to take over the truck at any point. This is not only for situations where an accident or glitch may occur, but it would also be necessary for the driver to take over when exiting the highway. So, in actuality, we’re discussing the benefits of semi-autonomous trucks not full-fledged autonomous (which is likely much farther in the future).
How Self-Driving Trucks May Benefit Drivers
Now that we’ve discussed how self-driving trucks might work, let’s talk about how they could affect the industry and what it could mean for truck drivers. The biggest benefit that we foresee (once technology is advanced enough) is increased safety.
This technology could prevent accidents that are solely caused by human “error”. Things like distracted driving, impaired driving, or drowsy driving can all contribute to avoidable accidents. It is likely that semi-autonomous trucks would help to reduce the number of these types of accidents that are caused by humans.
Another major benefit is reduced trip time. If self-driving trucks allowed drivers to rest while continuing to drive, the time it takes to complete a trip could be greatly reduced. This would require autonomous not just semi-autonomous vehicles, so it’s less likely that we will be able to realize this potential benefit in the near future, but in the long run it could really impact truckers and the trucking industry.
As technology progresses and self-driving trucks become a reality, it could be a really great thing for truck drivers. Increase safety would not only improve the lives of truckers but also everyone else on the road and the trucking companies. Let us know what you think of autonomous trucks and how they’ll affect the future of trucking.