Self-Driving Trucks – Timelines and Developments

Self-Driving Trucks Timeline

While self-driving trucks and self-driving cars make use of much of the same technology to power their AI systems, it would be a mistake to think the expected roll out date of both developments to would be identical. Their similarities can easily mask their significant differences.

The sheer weight of semi trucks creates unique technological challenges compared to self-driving cars. The substantial weight of trucks means the time it takes to stop a them is much longer than cars, and trucks have less ability to swerve to avoid an accident.

At the same, the way the way trucks are deployed creates possible uses of autonomy which would be economically viable for commercial trucks but not commercial cars. For example, some trucks will spend their entire lifecycle operating on only a limited piece of private property, such as a mine, which simplifies the legal and technical issues with creating an autonomous system.

This analysis will look at two key aspects of the development of autonomous trucks:

  1. The unique ways autonomous or semi-autonomous trucks are expected to be first commercially used
  2. When the major manufacturers, technology companies, and outside experts project this technology will see significant use

Autonomous trucks will not be deployed in a single defining moment, but in a series of steps. Instead, it is expected to roll out in several ways that first improve the efficiency of human drivers.

The current focus of many companies working in this space is not the total elimination of human truck drivers but finding ways to augment them with AI to get more miles traveled at lower costs. The first part of the article will look at several ways companies think a combination of human drivers and AI working together can reduce fuel usage and increase run time. The second part will look at how companies and outside experts expect these technology to be commercially viable.

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