The driverless vehicle market accelerates.
By Rhonda J. Wilson
Autonomous truck technology rules the news. Major manufacturers, such as Freightliner, Daimler and Volvo, as well as earthmoving equipment companies, like Caterpillar and Komatsu, have unveiled models for future and current commercial use.
Due to the booming e-commerce market, driverless truck adoption will most likely take place on highways before automotive versions begin maneuvering around city streets. “It’s here whether we like it or not,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO at American Trucking Associations, in his State of the Industry Address last October. “This technology has the potential to get trucks moving, reduce fuel burn and emissions and increase miles driven—all measurable returns to companies and drivers.”
“Haven’t seen enough research, but I’m not thrilled. Computers can’t predict or react to everything.” Amber Pinkelman, co-owner, Pinkelman Truck & Trailer in Norfolk, Nebraska
“They will never work unless there’s a dedicated lane for them. Weather conditions are a factor, too.” Shawn Fitzjarrald, co-owner, Reliable Professional Maintenance Truck Repair in Effingham and Palestine, Illinois
“Autonomous trucks are new technology. They’re going to be here, so we need to keep up.” Dan Prahl, co-owner, Dan’s Diesel in Sunburg, Willmar and Alexandria, Minnesota
“I don’t think the infrastructure is set up for it to happen in the next 10 years. We need to establish GPS coordinates first, so the vehicles know where to go.” Evan Lang, co-owner, E.L.M. Repair & Refrigeration in Edgar, Wisconsin
“With the changing technology, they’re building trucks with more sensors. The result is more failed parts and greater expenses for repairs.” Peggy Lawless, co-owner, Professional Fleet Services in Wichita, Kansas