Bookmark and Share

What You 'Otto' Know About Self-Driving Semi-Trucks

"Long before autonomous vehicles are cruising the suburbs, you will have autonomous trucks on the highway." - Bryant Walker Smith, University of South Carolina law professor.

Self-driving semi-trucks are hitting the roads. In May Freightliner was given the OK to test self-driving trucks on Nevada highways. Drivers are still behind the wheel and do all the driving when the truck is not on a limited access highway. Freightliner trucks will stay their own lane and avoid hitting cars ahead with no driver input. Radar sensors and cameras watch lane lines and surrounding traffic.

In August 2016 self-driving semi-truck technology was in the news when Uber purchased Otto for a reported 680 million. Otto was founded less than a year before the Uber purchase by four former Google employees including Anthony Levandowski, one of the engineers on the company's self-driving team, and Lior Ron, who headed Google Maps for five years. Otto retrofits existing trucks with their technology.

Why the push for self-driving trucks? One reason might be a shortage of drivers. According to a 2015 report published by the American Trucking Association, a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers now will grow to nearly 150,000 by 2020. Freightliner executives claim self-driving trucks will reduce driver fatigue and allow drivers to be more productive. While the truck is going down the highway, the driver could safely attend to paperwork. Supply Chain 24/7 claims the cost of a machine operating a vehicle will be dramatically cheaper than the cost of a human. And a convoy of trucks can draft behind each other saving on fuel costs.

One day in the future self-driving trucks will be on our highways. Whether they will be built as self-driving or the technology will be an after market add-on is anyone's guess. According to autonomous truck sales might reach 60,000 annually by 2035. Until then, contact us here at Robertson Truck Sales if you are looking for a truck. We have a large inventory and can help with financing.