Autonomous Trucks: Pros and Cons
The age of the autonomous vehicle has nearly arrived. With Uber continuing to successfully test its fleet of autonomous trucks, evident in its successful delivery of 50,000 cases of Budweiser last October (see the source), autonomous trucks are becoming a very real reality. Besides Uber, plenty of other companies have also been making great strides with this technology, including Tesla and Google.
But while autonomous, self-driving trucks are being talked about as the future of ground delivery, they bring with them both advantages and disadvantages.
The Advantages of Autonomous Trucks
Less Road Accidents
While autonomous trucks aren’t yet completely safe and accident-proof, especially in certain weather environments and road conditions, various reports that have been conducted claim that they will lead to a significant decrease in accidents compared to human-driven trucks. A report released by McKinsey & Company (see: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/ten-ways-autonomous-driving-could-redefine-the-automotive-world) claims that autonomous vehicles can lead to a 90% decrease in traffic fatalities.
Decrease in Traffic Jams and Congestion
Another often overlooked advantage that autonomous trucks can provide is that they can greatly reduce traffic jams and congestion throughout the country, especially on highways. That’s because autonomous trucks will be programmed to take the most optimal route and will also not be susceptible to delayed human reactions that often lead to traffic backups.
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A third advantage is that autonomous trucks can result in cost savings to the companies that use them. Of course, there will be a large upfront investment in buying a vehicle that’s capable of autonomous driving, but over time, this is expected to pay off through a combination of increased efficiency and a decrease in drivers that have to be paid.
The Disadvantages of Autonomous Trucks
Loss of Jobs
While autonomous trucks will create new jobs in certain positions, they’ll, unfortunately, also most likely lead to some truck drivers losing their jobs. Many of these drivers have been operating for decades, and they stand to lose significantly if they are replaced by driverless trucks. This won’t happen overnight, of course, but it’s still a very real concern if autonomous trucks ever start to take off in a big way.
New Security Concerns
Autonomous trucks, because of the software that they operate on, are vulnerable to hackers and other types of criminals. Even if an autonomous truck has a person inside the vehicle supervising things, there’s the very real possibility that hackers can infiltrate the software and override the controls.
Many Regulations and Laws
Yet another disadvantage of autonomous trucks is that it will be a long time before they’re ever able to operate nationwide. Besides the technology still needing to be improved a bit, state regulations and laws will prevent autonomous vehicles in general from being permitted on the road in every state. As of now, it will be on a state-by-state basis.
Whether or not autonomous trucks will ever become the norm remains to be seen, but there’s no denying the fact that they’re here to stay!
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