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Friday Short Haul - New eCascadias, Top cities for truck driver jobs, Push against driverless trucks 8/23/2019 Decision on California drivers' employee/contractor status coming down to the wire 8/21/2019 UPS jumps on autonomous bandwagon with TuSimple investment 8/19/2019 FMCSA publishes proposed HOS rule changes 8/16/2019 Fleets, drivers coming to like automated manual transmissions 8/14/2019 CVSA asks for new truck crash study 8/12/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS revisions delayed, AEB mandate proposed, Koch sued for sex discrimination 8/9/2019 Kodiak Robotics takes lead in autonomous truck industry race 8/7/2019 New York City combats rash of cyclist/truck clashes 8/5/2019 Friday Short Haul - CRST wins lawsuit, OOIDA opposes insurance hike, UPSNav 8/2/2019 Mechanics shortage equals driver shortage in intensity 7/31/2019 DOT announces almost 1$ billion in grants to fix infrastructure 7/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - DOL on sleeper pay, UPS drone delivery, Geowiz ELDs 7/26/2019 FMCSA takes a look at assault, harassment of female and minority drivers 7/24/2019 It's hot out there, what's a trucker to do? Can't idle. 7/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Utah truck rollovers, aging truckers, lifetime CDL bans 7/19/2019 Truck-mounted LED billboards coming under fire 7/17/2019 Trucker 'drones on' with unique approach to teaching driving skills 7/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - Rhode Island tolls, human smuggling, contractor vs employee status 7/12/2019 ELD mandate deadline looming, many still not compliant 7/10/2019 New "boot" device being deployed to threaten Walmart overnighters 7/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Prime Inc vs Amazon, mother fights HOS changes, truck drivers appreciation week 7/5/2019 Proper way to fly the American flag on your truck this Fourth of July 7/3/2019 Roundabouts are becoming popular; but are they best for trucks? 7/1/2019 Friday Short Haul - Skills test proposal, driver shortage, hemp sentencing, driverless trucks 6/28/2019 Experts warn of active wildland fire season 6/26/2019 More states signing on to enlist truckers against human trafficking 6/24/2019 Friday Short Haul - Shippers of Choice, insurance rates, wheel spikes, WIT award 6/21/2019 Freight numbers not holding up to 2018's highs 6/19/2019 Truck safety group urges purges of drug abuse drivers 6/17/2019 Friday Short Haul - Self-driving certificate, truck platooning, trade war stacking up cargo 6/14/2019 HOS waiver coming soon for fireworks haulers 6/12/2019 FMCSA takes a further look at detention time 6/10/2019 Friday Short Haul - Autonomous delivery, HOS rules changes, CDL retest 6/7/2019 Roadcheck 2019 in effect this week 6/5/2019 Hemp arrest prompts USDA memo 6/3/2019 Friday Short Haul - Waymo big rigs, Move over sting, Under-21 comments 5/31/2019 Severe weather prompts renewed emergency declaration 5/29/2019 Memorial Day holiday is prime time for cargo thefts 5/25/2019 Friday Short Haul - Hauling hemp, road rage fatality, new rules for autonomous vehicles 5/24/2019 Autonomous trucks on USPS test run 5/22/2019 Future era of cab-less trucks will be the end of HOS rules 5/20/2019 Friday Short Haul - FMCSA under-21 comments, Tesla autonomous car crash, 24,000 drivers sign contract with YRC 5/17/2019 Under-21 interstate drivers getting serious look by FMCSA 5/15/2019 Trucker Buddy program matches drivers with a classroom; everyone wins 5/13/2019 Friday Short Haul - Driver awarded $80 million, ODFL driver wins, loading dock black hole 5/10/2019 Storm breaks out from Rockies, slams into Midwest, South 5/8/2019 Capacity issues have shippers looking at private fleets 5/6/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS rules, dark skies, Falcon drivers 5/3/2019 'Bug' permits now required for four eastern states 5/1/2019 Simulator use is catching on for schools, carriers 4/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - Thinking electric, Penske opens charging station, border crossing crisis, railroads taking trucking business 4/26/2019 ELDs might not be the panacea that was hoped for 4/24/2019 Truck drivers may soon see "phantoms" driving yard trucks 4/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Nikola big rigs, WIT welcomes Peterbilt, Oregon crashes, Border crossings 4/19/2019 Carriers claim financial benefit of putting up drivers in hotels 4/17/2019 Uber's IPO application reveals interesting data about its freight brokerage business 4/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - CDL examiner arrested, tolls proposed for trucks, marijuana use on the rise 4/12/2019 Smart Load Board will get carriers the loads they need 4/10/2019 Huge lines and long wait times greet carriers at Mexico border 4/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Marijuana, ATA campaign, personal conveyance rules 4/5/2019 Over-the-air downloads revolutionize parameter updates 4/3/2019 Don't get scammed by skimmers 4/1/2019 Friday Short Haul -- New Cascadias honored, motorist survey, U.S, Xpress awarded, rest stop parking 3/29/2019 Legislators address underride collisions, propose more underguards for trucks, trailers 3/27/2019 Motorists soon may encounter a different kind of truck convoy 3/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Women in Trucking, irate motorist, FMCSA eases HOS, Safe-Cap 3/22/2019 Recent survey shows cost of roadside repairs is rising 3/20/2019 FMCSA announces drug and alcohol clearinghouse website 3/18/2019 Friday Short Haul - Swift settlement, driver shortage myth, TCA Best Fleet award 3/15/2019 The hidden danger of looking but not seeing 3/13/2019 Accident scammers target trucks for financial payout 3/11/2019 3/9/2019 3/9/2019 Friday Short Haul - Snow on the roof, bypassing toll road, Waze under fire 3/8/2019 Retailers blame driver shortage for price increases 3/6/2019 Drivers' smartphones may be clue to road roughness 3/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Freight rates, HOS changes, tonnage reports 3/1/2019 New tax changes hit drivers hard 2/27/2019 FMCSA to implement under-21 interstate driver program for former military 2/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Connecticut tolls proposed, hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, cell phone use 2/22/2019 Congress committee looks at state of America's highways 2/20/2019 Number of cargo thefts is down; but dollar value about the same 2/18/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Crossing the border, CA sues FMCSA, Lobbying against larger trucks 2/15/2019 Detention - A problem still in search of a solution 2/13/2019 February Highway Angels honorees named 2/11/2019 Friday Short Haul -- C.R. England announces pay raises, eCommerce impact on trucking, TCA announces best fleets 2/8/2019 Is a guaranteed minimum pay the solution to the driver shortage? 2/6/2019 Long CDL testing wait times cost economy billions of dollars; not helping driver shortage 2/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Walmart hiring, Uber Freight App, Speed-limiter Law, America's Road Team 2/1/2019 Cranking -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly 1/30/2019 California survives challenge to its low-carbon fuel standards 1/28/2019 Friday Short Haul - Highway robbery ... autonomous trucks ... new trailers 1/25/2019 LithiumHub enters jump-starter market with Jumpbooster JP30 1/23/2019 2019 Looks Good For The Transportation Industry 1/21/2019 Raymond Burt named TMC Trainer of the Month for February 2018 3/28/2018 TMC Transportation Announces Recipient of Prestigious Wheel Master Award 3/7/2018 TMC Transportation Named The Home Depot’s Flatbed Carrier of the Year For Fourth Straight Year 2/28/2018 Pay Raises & New Peterbilts for PAM Drivers 2/26/2018 New DOT Drug Testing Rules Effective Jan 1, 2018 1/11/2018 Amtrak Derailment: Trucks Haul 270,000 Pound Locomotive Engine During Cleanup 12/21/2017 Pepsi Places Largest Order Yet For Tesla Electric Trucks 12/12/2017 Kavin Hallett named Trainer of the Month for October 2017 12/8/2017 Over 100,000 Truck Drivers Likely Have Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And More Testing Is On The Way 8/10/2017 Drivers Share Their Best Tips, Tricks, And Secrets For Life On The Road 7/18/2017 Drivers Are Losing Money By Taking The Wrong Approach 7/13/2017 Truckers and Guns: What Is and Is Not Legal 7/6/2017 Preparing To Go Solo For The First Time? Experienced Drivers Share Their Best Advice 6/29/2017 The Truck Stop Survival Guide: Advice From Experienced Drivers 6/15/2017 The Worst Cities For Traffic In The U.S. For 2017 6/8/2017 We Ask Drivers How They Would Make The Logbook Rules Better 5/30/2017 Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon 5/25/2017 11/30/-0001

Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon

Brett Aquila on Thu, May 25, 2017

It's common for anyone considering a career in trucking to wonder about the impending takeover of self-driving vehicles. When is this going to happen? Am I going to have a job in a few years? Will they still need drivers for anything at all, or are we all on the way out?

Pleeeeeease! Get serious.

As a software developer myself I'm acutely aware of the difficulty of getting software to do even the most basic tasks reliably, let alone incredibly complex tasks like:

  • Navigating busy city streets
  • Swerving through twisty construction zones
  • Wiggling around in tight parking lots full of busy people
  • Detecting and adjusting to icy roads

....and 10 million other things humans have to figure out each day, on the fly, without warning.

The human mind is vastly more powerful and complex than most people would realize. It's not until you try to mimic what the mind can do that you realize how astounding this challenge will be. We can interpret things going on around us with incredible speed and accuracy. We adjust to the unknown, the unpredictable, and the outright bizarre without much difficulty at all.

And yet if you read the headlines it would seem science has all but written off humans as being useful anymore. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles are taking over, or about to, if you believe these clowns.

Yes, clowns. They're clowning us.

Who?

Well there's quite a few of them in fact. There's no shortage of people who are looking to drum up attention for the impending robot revolution. In fact, why don't we have our own clown parade?

Researchers At Universities

University research requires large amounts of money in the form of grants in order to fund ongoing research. Well say you're a wealthy graduate of University X looking to get some notoriety, and Mr Researcher at University X comes to you and says, "Listen, University X is leading the way in self-driving vehicles. With just a small donation from you, maybe in the six figure range, max, you'll be able to say you were a part of the revolution that University X created!" You might just cut a check for those Benjamins and wait for the bragging rights to come your way. Heck, you probably won't even wait for it to happen before you tell your friends about it. It's a gimme! A professor told you so.

But if they can't get the word out to you, how would you know? So they have to drum up the excitement publicly. Well that's awesome news for:

Publishers Looking For Link Bait Titles

Oh heck yeah, that's me too! But I'm on the other side of the coin. I don't believe any of this is about to happen, so my 'clicky titles' aren't nearly as clicky as the ones proclaiming:

Man, those headlines are rich with sweet, buttery goodness, aren't they? Seriously, I already know you're gonna read em so go ahead. I won't be mad. Sometimes I can't resist either. They really do sound interesting, and they make it seem so realistic, too, like it's actually about to happen!

Corporations Looking For Funding

And naturally we would be remiss if we didn't mention the corporations and their incessant quest for the almighty dollar. The amount of money you can bring in by getting a tech startup funded, or bringing in a new round of public funding for a large corporation, is staggering. It's in the millions for startups, and billions for larger corporations.

Promising your investors huge payoffs if (or when?) your company produces valuable technology is what drives much of the tech world forward. Right now, many thousands of software engineers are getting wealthy while plugging away at the next phase of our technological advancement. Will any of it ever come to fruition? Some. But mostly in the form of selling your "promising startup" to the next larger corporation looking to buy more promising startups.

But you see, there's something you have to understand about technology. You don't assess the current state of technology by its successes. You measure it by its failures. It's not about what we can accomplish when things go perfectly, it's about what we can do safely and consistently, even when everything goes exactly the opposite of what we had anticipated.

Measuring The Current State of Technology By Its Failures

Getting a vehicle to navigate today's overcrowded city streets and Interstates is a monumental task. It's staggering the amount of information that would have to be processed continuously, and accurately, in real time. You would have to combine GPS data with all sorts of other technologies in order to detect obstacles in your path, street signs, highway markings, pedestrians and bicycles, weather, road conditions, other traffic on the highway, and a million other variables.

  • What if you're on a highway in a storm and there's a live power line down across the road?
  • What if you're in a construction zone and they didn't reline the highway to indicate the lane you should be in?
  • What if the road only has one lane open and a flagman is signaling for you to do something?
  • What if you're on the Interstate and a drunk driver is coming at you going the wrong way on the highway? (I've had this happen to me!)

I could go on all day. Are software engineers able to account for this? Pardon my language, but heck no! (I said that with vigor, mind you).

No, they will not be able to account for such things. How do I know?

Here's something I had happen to me yesterday.

An Incredible Siri Fail

So yesterday I'm driving down I-87, heading back to the campground I'm staying at for the season, Iroquois Campground in Peru, NY. Now I've used Siri on my iPhone to request navigation with Apple Maps back to this campground several times. At the time this happened I'm about 8 miles from the campground. Here's the conversation........

Brett: "Hey Siri"

Siri: "Yes?"

Brett: "Navigate to Iroquois Campground"

Siri: "I can't find Iroquois Campground"

Brett: "What the....???"

Brett: "Hey Siri"

Siri: "Yes"

Brett: "Navigate to Iroquois Campground"

Siri: "I can't find Iroquois Campground"

Brett: "WTH??? (Pardon my abbreviated language, but I'm being real here)"

Brett: "Hey Siri"

Siri: "Yes?"

Brett: "Navigate to Iroquois Campground in Peru, NY"

Siri: "Ok, navigating to Iroquois Campground in Peru, NY"

Then she was able to find the place and take me there.

I mean, you've gotta be kidding me???

Apple has $200 Billion in cash and well over 10,000 software engineers and they don't know to look for a place in the area that I've asked them to navigate me to?

I mean, I started with the word "Navigate" and I'm doing 65 mph down the Interstate so ya gotta figure I'm trying to go to a location, right? I'm either going to give you the name of the place, or an address. I obviously didn't give an address, and when she repeated it back she even spelled it properly........"I can't find Iroquois Campground"...............well where the hell were you looking?? Obviously not within an 8 mile range of here!

Duuuuuh........I guess she didn't think to look for a place in the area with that name. What a novel idea, huh? Duuuuuuh.

And this is just one tiny example of a software fail, but it's at the most basic level. What happens if we start counting on this technology on a large scale and we have a major failure?

So where are we when we assess our limitations and failures? Well Tesla had a recent failure with their "autopilot" system, (or auto-kill-you system), when a car smashed directly into the side of a tractor trailer, and the findings were startling:

The government just closed its investigation into the first Tesla Autopilot fatality

Now get this from the article above:

"Tesla wrote in a blog post following the May accident that the Autopilot system did not notice "the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

The autopilot system didn't notice a tractor trailer?? "My God. But why??" you ask? Oh you'll love this. Because:

"Autopilot is not cross-traffic aware, meaning it should not be expected to recognize and react to vehicles crossing in front of a car", Thomas said.

Ok, I can't even think of a response to that without cussing. You're trying to tell me that you've been promising the world we're about to be taken over by self-driving vehicles but they can't even recognize a tractor trailer sitting completely perpendicular to my path?

When considering the use of technology on a large scale we must judge the technology based upon its limitations and failures, not upon its potential. It's as simple as that. And where do we stand right now with regard to self-driving technology?

We're Limited, And We're Failing.

So the next time you find yourself lying awake worrying about self-driving vehicles, just go back to sleep. We're not within a million miles of this happening yet. They're just clowning us.

If you'd like to join the discussion and leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you in our forum:

Forum Discussion: Self Driving Vehicles Are Coming Soon You Say? I Say Please Stop Clowning Us

Tagged Under:

Changing Careers Self-Driving Vehicles Truckers Technology Trucking Industry Concerns Trucking News

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