The first self-driving commercial truck in the U.S. is officially on the road in Nevada.
Freightliner, the creator of the autonomous truck, compares the Highway Pilot system to the autopilot on commercial airplanes.
Using stereoscopic cameras and radar sensors, the semi-truck can be switched to autonomous autopilot on the highway.
The truck can steer itself between lane markers, adjust speed, and brake.
It cannot change lanes to pass, or use highway ramps. The truck driver resumes full control by touching the wheel or brakes.Right now, the system is limited to use on highways during daylight hours with clear weather.
With only one truck on the road, it’s hard to predict the long-term effects of autonomous trucking systems.
They do have the potential to improve efficiency. Steady speed will reduce fuel consumption. The auto-option can leave the trucker free to make calls, update route plans, schedule dock time, and do other tasks that would normally distract the truck driver from the road.
More importantly, removing some of the potential for driver mistakes could reduce the number of truck crashes. Currently, about 90% of truck crashes are attributed to human error.
What do you think of autonomous semi-trucks on the road? Let me know – @kevincoluccio