Automated Driverless Trucks?

Topic 19946 | Page 1

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Steve S.'s Comment
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I'll be going to a community college to get training for my CDL soon, and am studying this site's excellent CDL study program. But I constantly keep hearing about how automated trucks are going to sweep across the country like a tidal wave in about ten years. Somehow, as a person with a Bachelor's degree in IT, I'm just not seeing it. It took the aviation industry billions and billions of dollars and decades to partially automate flying and the pilots are still very much here. Automating 80,000 pounds of death on the highways is something else again. Bottom line is that I don't really think the driverless trucks will come about in any real significant way. All the hype over them will end up like the 3D televisions that were supposed to take over a few years ago. What is the opinion of all of you experienced truckers out there? Is it still worth it to get into this industry? Or is it dying and going to be replaced by Skynet?


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Rick S.'s Comment
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We have this topic come up a few times a month.

There are a number of companies that are already experimenting with autonomous trucks. And while the technology is already becoming very viable - the legality/reality of it is at least a decade away (if not more).

It's one thing to have an Uber car (remember the "Johnny Cab" in the movie Fifth Element?) navigating city streets - and quite another to have a 60'+ rig do it.

The legality of having one of these rigs operating on highways & city streets, completely unattended is a long way off - even longer the first time it crushes some soccer moms vans full of kids on the way to a Chuckie Cheese.

While automation IS in the future - how far off until the driver is COMPLETELY ELIMINATED, is anyone's guess - a decade, two?

At any rate - there will ALWAYS be the need for a driver/operator to be present. Despite airplanes that can take-off/land by computer and all the other cool gifts that technological advances have brought us - the ever-changing dynamics of our roadways will require human intervention. Until EVERY VEHICLE ON THE ROAD are all controlled by a central computer/traffic system - the HUMAN ELEMENT of drivers, will always require another human at the controls.

Would I mind getting paid to kick back on a long highway run, and watch a movie while the truck drives (and get paid for it)? Sure would. Do I think automation is going to kick me out of the truck completely? Not in a decade, maybe in two.

My 2016 Honda Pilot has adaptive cruise control, lane keeper & runoff-avoidance. It's pretty damn accurate too. I can set it for a speed, set my following distance and turn on the lane keeper - and the car nearly drives itself. As long as I keep a hand on the wheel (so it knows I'm still there and awake), the only thing I have to do is make lane changes.



Operating While Intoxicated

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
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I agree. It's all hype and BS. To much has to change for any vehicle to be 100% driverless all the time. I know they have test cars and trucks. When a driverless truck, navigates city streets, traffic, suprises like the Atlanta ATV gang, hills mountains and backing to a tight dock, then maybe I'll be worried. I don't expect that to happen any time soon. More and more electronics into trucks, yes. Maybe cruise control that will allow you to take your hands off the wheel for a few minutes at a time. Many new trucks have cruise control that slows you down to keep you at least 4 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. It will slam on the brakes when a four wheeler cuts you off. You have be very aware of what's around you. There's lane assist, which buzzes on the side you are going out of your lane. There are so many beeps and buzzes, it can make you a bit crazy. Good luck in your training.

Steve S.'s Comment
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Thanks for your quick replies! Hoping to hear more replies from the rest of you guys and gals! But yeah, two decades from now shouldn't hurt me because I'll be either passed on from this world or retired in some fashion. I'm 56 years of age and pretty healthy and no weight problems so I don't think I'll have any problems passing the DOT physical.

But as far as the driverless truck thing goes, I think it will still be a fantasy even 20 or 30 years from now. While the trucks will be much more advanced than now, they will still need humans behind the wheel for other things even if not for just second-to-second straight-up driving. Think pilots in airplanes even though the flight is pretty much automated. And flying through air is much, much simpler than navigating our nation's highways and byways.


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Old School's Comment
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Use the search bar at the top of this page. It will search the sibject on this site only. We've had plenty of lively discussions on this.

It ain't happening. The liability issues are insurmountable. For now it's a way for Technocrats to raise billions for research. That's my opinion, which is probably not worth a cup of cheap coffee, but there it is.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Rick Dees's Comment
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You have nothing to worry about..someone said above a decade or two..I think it will be a lot longer than that. The most I could see in the next 20 years might be some kind of auto pilot feature maybe on long straight roads across country like Int 80... An automated truck across Wyoming in January??.no way! Navigating Chicago, Atlanta?? Nope.

I would say of you were born in the year 2100 you might have something to worry's all good for now and beyond.

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