Autonomous trucks may be hitting the highways in South Carolina and around the country in the future. However, before the U.S. can enter the new era of computer guided shipping and delivery, significant infrastructure improvements will be necessary.
Using advanced sensors and computer programs, trucks will be driving themselves. However, this will not eliminate the need for truckers or other personnel. Industry policy and public policy both indicate that a human presence in the cab of a truck is desirable and will remain so for some time.
Drivers will not have to focus their attention on the road, freeing up time for other tasks and making the observation of laws relating to trucker activity and rest periods all the easier to observe. They may have substantial duties where appropriate. They may work on their duties while in route, and their participation will likely be required during the loading and unloading of the vehicle.
In order for the technology to work well, highways will have to be improved, and there will be a need for a way for the roads to communicate with the self-driving technology. This will require a significant public investment. In addition, it has been estimated that the new technology could raise the price of a new truck by tens of thousands of dollars.
Even if the self-driving technology becomes fully implemented, semi truck accidents will likely continue to occur. The causes could range from a computer glitch to a human programming error. A person who is injured in such an accident will likely want to meet with an attorney in order to identify the party or parties that should bear responsibility.
Source: Overdrive Online, “Autonomous trucks pave way for hours reform and more, but major roadblocks remain, says ATRI”, James Jaillet, Nov. 17, 2016