Self-driving trucks can offer a number of benefits to motor carriers, such as increasing capacity, improving safety and attracting younger drivers. But, even as companies like Ford, Tesla, Google and Uber continue to advance autonomous technology, these vehicles will have to overcome a number of roadblocks before they’re ready for widespread use:
- Public perception—Advanced sensors generally make self-driving trucks safe, but recent high-profile collisions and fatalities have lowered the public’s opinion of the vehicles.
- Employment—Experts disagree on autonomous technology’s impact on driving jobs. Although some studies suggest that self-driving trucks will eliminate jobs, supporters of the technology believe that drivers will still operate on board the vehicles or become specialized fleet managers.
- Liability—The liability of an accident involving human-driven vehicles is fairly easy to judge. However, self-driving trucks bring a nonhuman factor into the equation that makes it difficult to determine if an operator, technology developer, manufacturer or other party is at fault for an accident.
The automation technology is here and improving. A truck driver shortage continues to plague the transportation industry. Autonomous vehicles would both revitalize an aging industry and provide improved safety scores.