The future of self-driving vehicles could involve more long-haul trucks than cars

Until now most of the focus on self-driving vehicles has been on personal transport – cars. But Scott Smith on Quartz suggests it might be long distance road transport where the revolution really takes place.

in terms of near-term impact, the self-driving semi could make a bigger splash given the trucking industry contributed $642 billion to the US economy last year.

As he points out, a lot of groundwork has already been done.

Major delivery companies such as Fedex, UPS, and DHL have been refining the algorithms that direct their human drivers’ routes for years though this is now reaching the point where the drivers and the algorithms are seeing eye to eye less frequently, and drivers’ learned experience from years on the road is clashing with the cold logic of software, where routes can seem less intuitive to a single driver even while being more economical for the whole company. DHL, for one, sees self-driving trucks as completing an already rapidly automating supply chain, where container ports on one end and distribution warehouses further down the line are already filling with robotics.

He also points to progress in the development of the technology itself, including at Mercedes Benz which already has a demo model. And then there's this

A company appropriately called Peloton has been working on the capability of platooning autonomous trucks to gain greater economic efficiencies. And of course, the omnipresent Elon Musk has proposed even skipping highways altogether and putting road freight on his Hyperloop tube transport system.


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