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In 10 Years, Will Commercial Trucks be Autonomous?

Technology has become a key player in the day-to-day operations of trucking companies. Logs have gone paperless, and recruiters use new tools such as chatbots to target drivers 24/7. Someday, there might even be autonomous trucks delivering freight. The future of autonomous trucks in many ways determines the future of the drivers hauling them today. Trucking Industry trends suggest that within ten years there could be autonomous trucks. However, much more needs to occur before the industry can reach that milestone.

Many drivers worry that autonomous trucks will take away their jobs. In fact, The Wall Street Journal believes that “autonomous trucking could replace some 294,000 long-distance truck drivers over the next 25 years.” However, sites like Transport Topics suggest that drivers and autonomous trucks could work together to deliver freight. Using “transfer hub(s)”, an automated truck could take the long journey in places like interstates. Then, the real driver could meet the truck and drive it through the city to its destination.

Autonomous trucks may be in their beta stages, but there are more issues to work out before they can become the norm for hauling freight across America. The past problems with autonomous cars crashing from companies like Uber and Tesla have set back the progress in everyday life. According to Business Insider, the current liability laws in place for the industry “aren’t adapting to self-driving trucks.” If the current laws were used in an autonomous truck accident, “there would be no driver to be held responsible.” While the technology could be available with a ten-year time frame, the law might not be prepared for this new way of hauling.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) hopes to remove this issue. Recently, they released a press release announcing that they will release “new Federal guidance” for autonomous vehicles. Called “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” this program will give safety guidance and give USDOT a process for working with those on the road as technology advances.

There are many factors that could determine if we are working with autonomous trucks in 10 years. We have the technology, but many factors remain unclear. Until we are sure where the path of the trucking industry leads, autonomous trucks will, no doubt, remain a hot topic.

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