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Murray illustrated the cargo industry’s ambivalent attitudes about so-called “driverless vehicles” last week at the annual CNS Partnership Conference in Palm Springs.
First of all, there’s the name. While technologies such as radar, and its laser-based cousin, “lidar,” will allow long haul trucks to operate without human intervention, Murray said he doesn’t foresee a time when a trucks will be completely “driverless” during a truck’s journey. Instead, the technology will allow a human operator to take breaks and naps during the long, open-road portions.
Murray also noted that the air cargo industry is much farther along than the trucking sector, in terms of automation, since the aviation business has had autopilot technology that allows pilots to take breaks and naps on long, transoceanic flights. Most of the change today, he added, will be adding similar technology to long-haul, 18-wheeler trucks.
According to a survey of thousands of trucking executives and drivers, conducted annually by ATRI, autonomous trucks will help solve two of the most pressing problems in the trucking industry: a shortage of qualified drivers and the much-loathed electronic logging device (ELD) requirements that all drivers must perform. The ease of the burden on truck driving that automated system can provide will make the profession “much more attractive to today’s 18-to-20-year-olds” and can perform all ELD duties automatically.
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