Self-driving trucking is moving ahead briskly. The main article linked below notes that a convoy of self-driving trucks recently crossed Europe, which leaves out important details. The trucks were connected wirelessly, as part of the 2016 European Truck Platooning Challenge. The event was a test of the platooning concept, meaning the vehicles were following in a close line to save fuel and the lead truck had an active driver:
Convoys of Automated Trucks Set to Point Way to Driverless Cars: Truck “platooning” can help manufacturers hone technology, Bloomberg News, April 21, 2016Eventually, the passive drivers in the convoy will disappear and the group of trucks will be semi-autonomous with one human driver in charge. That will likely be the next step.
Michael Kropp typically spends his days behind the wheel of a big, freight-hauling truck, navigating the high-speed curves, offramps, and stop-and-go traffic typical of European highways. On a recent trip to Rotterdam, he was able to relax and take in the sights. Kropp was one of about 30 drivers participating in a test of a new automated driving technology called platooning, which links trucks via Wi-Fi, GPS, sensors, and cameras so they can travel semiautonomously behind one another. The leading rig dictates speed and direction, while the rest automatically steer, accelerate, and brake in a closely spaced convoy. [. . .]
Although driverless cars grab headlines, it may take decades before truly autonomous vehicles rule the road. In the meantime, semiautomated convoys can help manufacturers hone the technology while cutting emissions and fuel consumption, says Anders Kellström, who managed Volvo’s test run to Rotterdam. “Platooning is one of the first steps toward automated driving,” he says. “The technology is mature.”
This video shows the platooning concept:
The following article is useful because it names some of the costs and savings in dollar amounts. These are the facts the trucking company owners are considering. Naturally they believe that someone else will provide jobs for Americans so they can purchase goods being transported by truck.
And of course, America won’t need any more immigrant workers in the techno-future, given the shrinking workforce caused partially by automation of jobs that were once done by humans. Oxford University researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were susceptible to being automated within 20 years.
Remember: Automation makes immigration obsolete.
The driverless truck is coming, and it’s going to automate millions of jobs, TechCrunch.com, April 26, 2016
A convoy of self-driving trucks recently drove across Europe and arrived at the Port of Rotterdam. No technology will automate away more jobs — or drive more economic efficiency — than the driverless truck.
Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks.
Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.
And the savings become even more significant when you account for fuel efficiency gains. The optimal cruising speed from a fuel efficiency standpoint is around 45 miles per hour, whereas truckers who are paid by the mile drive much faster. Further fuel efficiencies will be had as the self-driving fleets adopt platooning technologies, like those from Peloton Technology, allowing trucks to draft behind one another in highway trains. Continue reading this article