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Will autonomous trucks reduce the incidence of truck accidents?

A new trend in trucking may scare a lot of people throughout the country, including in Texas. Autonomous trucks are being developed to go out on the highways without a driver! It should be added that, at first, these unmanned highway giants will have a driving technician operating the computer controls inside the truck. It is also predicted that they will reduce, not increase, the number of truck accidents that occur.

Eventually, the manned trucks will transition to unmanned ones, often driving in platoons for added safety. Some experts predict a drastic reduction in truck accidents in 20 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers' five levels of graduated autonomy for unmanned trucks. One problem is that trucks are fairly ominous-looking when barreling down a highway at rapid speeds, and it doesn't take too much of a leap of imagination to foresee the reaction of car drivers to big trucks moving boldly with no drivers in them.

Even if these manifestations of future trucking arrive in mass force in the coming years, experts admit that they will make mistakes due to their lack of actual roadway experience. A human trucker with a lifetime of experience knows the ins and outs more intimately than a computer could try to emulate. It is therefore uncertain to what degree accidents will be reduced or eliminated. One thing is certain: truck companies will save considerably on paying drivers when they reach a level of autonomous trucks.

However, don't count on seeing that truly autonomous status in the next decade or two. The new system will face various dangers, not the least of which will be their vulnerability to cyberattacks. Trucks that are taken over by hackers could be used as weapons to cause more truck accidents, or even stolen and sold en masse across the borders. Texas residents will not be facing such phenomena in the near term, but it may be worthwhile to keep up with the issue and get prepared.

Source: roboticstomorrow.com, "Autonomous Trucks Will be Rolling on the Highway", Len Calderone, Feb. 15, 2018

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