Are Trucks Moving Past Cars on the Road to Autonomy?

If you pay attention to news coming out of Silicon Valley—and from Tesla, in particular—you may be familiar with fully autonomous cars that can deliver people from point A to B without them having to lift a finger. What you might not hear as much about, though, is that the trucking industry is working just as hard to create self-driving trucks.

Investors are funneling billions into companies like TuSimple that are dedicated to creating fully autonomous trucks that’ll haul our goods across the country at a fraction of the cost. Some of these trucks are already being tested, although there is always a driver behind the wheel to ensure the system doesn’t malfunction.

With so many startup companies working towards autonomous semis, one could argue that we’ll have self-driving trucks before we have fully autonomous passenger vehicles. But that vision is still quite a way’s off. Keep reading to learn more about the latest developments in autonomous trucks and cars.

What are some barriers for self-driving trucks?

Both fully autonomous trucks and cars face a lot of barriers before they can hit the road. Here are a few that relate specifically to the trucking industry:

  • Technology: As any trucker will tell you, driving a semi is much harder than driving any passenger vehicle. For example, trucks take much longer to stop and have a massive turning radius. Autonomous trucking companies must take this into account, so developing the technology is more difficult and a more time-consuming process.
  • Congress: There’s a lot of government red tape involving any self-driving car or truck. But Congress hasn’t lifted restrictions on autonomous trucks, as they have on cars. Without a consistent set of rules across the country, testing these trucks and getting them out in real-world scenarios isn’t as easy.
  • Unions: If you think unions are going to lie down while autonomous trucks take over, think again! The Teamsters Union is hard at work doing everything in its power to ensure drivers don’t lose their jobs to self-driving trucks.

Should drivers worry about losing their jobs?

So, the question that may be on your mind if you’re a driver is whether you should start searching for a new career. The answer is not yet. While TuSimple plans to begin mass-producing self-driving trucks by 2024, economists don’t predict them to start taking driving jobs until at least the 2040s. But even then, the losses will be relatively small.

What autonomous technology is currently in use?

Although we’ve focused solely on fully autonomous trucks so far, we should note that there’s already plenty of autonomous technology in use today. Today’s trucks are outfitted with equipment like braking and speed management systems, lane departure warning systems, forward collision mitigation systems and more that make driving easier and safer.

Partner with Energy Trucking today

Even though we currently don’t have autonomous trucks and cars in our fleet, Energy Trucking is your go-to partner for all of your delivery and logistics needs. Contact us today to find out why we’re a trusted trucking company in Florida and beyond.