Self-driving trucks have not captured the collective imagination. After all, most people have never been inside a truck, let alone a self-driving one. But just because trucks aren't prominent in most people's thoughts doesn't mean trucks don't have any impact on everyday life. On the contrary. Virtually everything we buy reaches us by truck. Automating the movement of goods could therefore have a very profound impact on our lives. And we will soon take note.
I have been speaking for years on this site of the autonomous driving revolution (even for trucks), so it doesn't surprise me. It was only a matter of identifying the best models, and the most functional one seems to be mixed. Self-driving trucks they do their best in closed areas or on highways, therefore it can work to make them part of a process that is then also operated by human beings. Or maybe from another type of automation, especially in the last mile.
The conclusion is always the same: we will end up loving self-driving trucks.
And for many reasons, too. The first, of course, is security. To be sure, assessing the safety of an autonomous vehicle remains a complex issue. The question, however, is not IF robots will be safer than humans, but WHEN. In 2018, tens of thousands of people died in accidents involving commercial vehicles. And estimates indicate that over 90% of road accidents are caused by human error. In the coming years, self-driving trucks will become safer than human-driven ones and will therefore begin to save lives.
This increased safety will be felt by all who drive on our highways. Let's face it: few people like to drive next to a huge truck on the freeway. The trucks are large, difficult to see and difficult to stop. I realize that seeing a truck driving down the highway without a driver can be even more troubling in the early days, but gradually this view will provide more peace of mind than anxiety. Self-driving trucks will do a great job of sharing the road with passenger vehicles - they'll be predictable and even a little boring. Self-driving trucks will be programmed to stay in the right lane and never accelerate. They will never get in the way of traffic, they will never drive drunk, they will never be distracted or sleepy.
The endemic problem of road transport is that it literally runs against the clock to reach a destination before the driver's body (or the law) orders him to stop. Without these restrictions, however, self-driving trucks won't have to run. This will make our transportation system safer and more efficient. Without the need for breaks for the driver, autonomous vehicles will be able to operate almost all day, every day.
Self-driving trucks will be able to plan their routes to avoid driving through cities at rush hour; robots don't mind being on the road at 3am instead of 15pm. This will improve traffic, as heavy trucks are a major reason for congestion on our roads.
Other less visible benefits
Preliminary research suggests that self-driving trucks will drive more efficiently than humans, making them more environmentally friendly. Keeping the speed limit will make a big difference: vehicles have an efficiency medium 17% lower at 100km / h against 80km / h . Also, since accelerating trucks are a major cause of road deterioration, running them slower will greatly reduce road wear and free up maintenance funds for other uses.
And the job? Another myth to dispel
There are many apocalyptic articles circulating about how automation will destroy jobs in the trucking industry. Yes, there are certainly many truckers who love their jobs, but the fact is that driving a truck 11 hours a day is terrible. It keeps truckers away from their families for days or weeks and has deleterious effects on their health. As self-driving trucks will primarily focus on highway routes, there will still be a great (and greater) need for drivers within urban areas.