The question says it for us: Are we ready for the driverless truck??? In Nevada they are testing them right now on the highways as we speak. Would you feel safe with one of these trucks being tested right beside you on the interstate? I think you would feel as safe as if the trucker beside you would be pulling an all nighter hoped up on caffein pills and red bull.
To the original question of are we ready, I think not. Before you condemn my statement to the stopping of progress, think for a minute as to what the new trucks rely on? Their radar is to 800 feet and they rely on cameras to stay in their lanes. If a problem arrives then the console beeps like crazy to alert the driver (if the drivers is capable of driving) to take over and handle the issue at hand. If the drive doesn’t respond within a set allowed timeframe then the truck slows down until it stops… Ok that solves a lot of problems on the streets today.
I am on the roads of today almost everyday (both local and highway), and with today’s economy and highway Infrastructure road maintenance and construction is the worst we have seen it in North America. A good example is say your on the highway and up ahead there is a lane closed due to road work. The distance between the road closure and the warning sign should be a constant distance but due to local conditions it will vary. Will it be enough time to transfer over control to the driver before the lane closure or will the truck just stop before the the construction adding to the congestion on the streets of today. Or how many times have you been on the highway and noticed the lanes have disappeared due to poor maintenance and people expect the cameras on the new trucks be able to make the same reasoning people can make when driving.
I am known for promoting technology of today so don’t be confused by the earlier statements in this article. Improvements of lifestyle is always a great idea as long as it doesn’t cause more problems because of lack of control or information. It’s a great start but it is no enough to only rely on radar and cameras with today’s speeds on our highways of today. Look at all the idiots who cut off trucks today, just imagine what will happen if some idiot cuts off one of these smart trucks. Most likely it will come to a sudden stop causing another road hazard. Like I said before I believe it’s a great start without the needed necessary add-ons.
For this technology to survive and flourish to be the next standard the researches must take in to account all aspects of road driving (with road rage) and not put up blinders in how most of the population drives today. Also they might want to look into the old saying: “there are only two seasons in this world, winter and construction”. There will always be construction on our roads in the future until someone comes out with a technology of materials that will never be in repair.
Also what happens in winter conditions when the cameras cannot find the road lanes (due to snow coverage)? Forget the Road Maintenance and Road Closers, when the snow falls most drivers make their own lane. What will the Truck do? Stop until the driver can takeover?
Unfortunately it’s also proved that we need drive assisted trucks today. Too many accidents have been with trucks and lack of sleep (or hyped up on something) to meet the deadline schedules of today.
Why doesn’t someone develop a dedicated lane (only for long distance trucks) that can be automated with all types of sensors needed to not allow non-automated trucks thus making it safe for the drivers and other cars that share our roads. The driver could be in control at the start the haul from the pickup point to the special highway lane, upon reaching the lane the driver will give temporary control over to the lane while he sets the destination.
Then the driver can relax while the transport is driven to the destination point, during this time the truck might need refueling and even this process can be automated. When the destination point is reached the driver is alerted and takes over to the standard lanes to the drop off point, if the driver cannot be alerted while on the controlled section within a set time period then the control system will alter the truck to an automated rest area until the driver is ready to resume. This is probably the best solution but we all know it will never happen due to the costs to make it happen.