Self-driving vehicles have been in the news regularly as virtually every automaker and major tech company are making the plunge into what they hope is the future of personal transportation. What often gets lost in the discussion is the potential of self-driving transport vehicles, which could revolutionize the entire industry.
It’s no surprise that California is leading the way on both fronts, both because of the major role it plays in the transport industry and because of the presence of major players in the technology field. The prime example being companies like Google, which has been developing autonomous vehicles on public streets for several years.
Roughly 60 companies in California have been authorized a permit which allows for the testing of self-driving vehicles, but Zoox Inc. will be the first to receive a permit for transport vehicles. While it is a very exciting opportunity that offers plenty of promise, Zoox isn’t planning to offer the use of its technology until sometime in 2020.
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What To Expect Going Forward In Driverless Transport
Though Zoox has been granted to first permit to develop driverless transport vehicles, there are some caveats. For one, the permit is specifically for the transport of passengers, not goods, meaning that transport and logistics operations won’t be immediately affected by the permits.
There are also some stipulations that must be followed during the initial phases of the autonomous driving program. The governing body in charge of the autonomous driving program is the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which has indicated that a driver must still be present in the vehicle during the testing phase. Upon full implementation of the pilot program, a driver is not required, but there must be a constantly available line of communication between passengers and remote operators of the driverless vehicles.
As with any new technology related to vehicles, there will be plenty of safety precautions and testing before the program is fully unveiled, but we can expect things to move forward rather quickly as other states are following suit and offering similar programs. As of this writing, there are about 80 cities across the United States that have such a program or plan to incorporate one soon.
By the end of 2020 we’ll have a much cleared idea of what the future of driverless transport holds, as well as how it may impact logistics and transport. For more information about California’s pilot program and to learn about which companies are pursuing the use of driverless technology, see the links under the resources section below.
Self-Driving Vehicle Resources
CA Companies With Driverless Testing Permits - A comprehensive listing of the California companies that have been granted self-driving testing permits.
CPUC Program Information - Information and links for more information about the CPUC Driverless AV Passenger Service permit program.