Last week, a self driving semi truck successfully completed a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in order to deliver Budweiser beer. The trip spanned 120 miles to Colorado.
During most of the duration of the trip, the “driver” observed the surroundings from the sleeper area of the vehicle. Otto, the company initiating the solo routes had a number of images showing the truck driving with a huge trailer behind carrying 2,000 cases of Budweiser, of course this was all without any human operating the vehicle.
In the current situation, the operations without humans are only occurring on highways, as humans take over on residential roadways. Otto cofounder, Lior Ron told the USA Today about the situation, “But now after this successful test, we’re eager to see how it will handle other roads and other weather.”
Clearly, this situation is a huge positive for the company and for those who are hoping that driverless vehicles become the modes of transportation for the future. Although there are many who are excited about the potential of this technology, there are also many who are concerned about the potential job loss.
Right now though, job loss does not appear to be an issue in the immediate future. Numerous states, including California and Arizona require that a driver stay present throughout the duration of the trip in case of emergency where the human needs to take over operation.
Despite these current regulations in certain states, it is expected that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will take over aspects of the regulations in order to create a uniform policy across the country.
Prior to allowing for the operation to take place, the Colorado Department of Transportation undertook numerous tests to assure that the driverless trip would be a successful one that would not pose a substantial safety risk to others.
The company, Otto has been working to develop this technology and has a number of features to assure that the driving can be as safe as possible. They have established camera sensors, radars, and other softwares.
The truck industry is a major one in which there is much potential to bring about substantial change to the systems in place. With increased efficiencies by technologies like this, the $726 billion industry would only be able to increase the profit margin for the companies, with potentially less liability, and decrease the price of shipping across the country.
Although the industry has advanced greatly, the odds that government regulations embrace and allow for this to fully function anytime soon is extremely unlikely.
(h/t USA Today)