Arizona is home to the “revolutionary technology, evolutionary pace” of autonomous trucking
Arizona’s generally dry climate and, at times, predictable traffic patterns are the main reasons autonomous vehicle makers are testing their technology on our roads. This same technology applied to semi-trailers is now beginning to develop here as well.
ABC15 took a look at the game-changing technology that some say is changing the industry at an evolutionary pace.
Virtually everything – from infrastructure to goods delivered to your door – arrived where it needed to be on a truck with someone driving long hours to get it there.
Finding drivers to transport products safely is just one of the challenges the trucking industry has faced recently.
“We have an industry that averages 55 years as a driver. New people don’t want to get into driving even though they can make $100,000 a year with a college education,” said Tony Bradley, president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association.
Over the holidays last year, self-driving technology company TuSimple managed the 80-mile trip from Tucson to Phoenix with no one behind the wheel.
Google spin-off company Waymo Via has wheels on the ground in several southwestern states. Their self-driving trucks usually have someone driving, just in case. John Verdon is responsible for this department.
The hardware mounted on Waymo Via trucks and the software inside are programmed to answer four questions: Where am I? What’s around me? What will happen next? What should I do? So when one of their trucks encounters police activity on the shoulder of the road, it moves to the left lane and then back.
“The last two years have really brought supply chain challenges to light, one of them being supply chain challenges, that’s definitely an area where our technology can help. ”
The Arizona Trucking Association told us that some of the technologies you see on these self-driving trucks are already in everyday fleets, like adaptive cruise control and forward assist brakes.
Autonomous technology is something truckers are embracing today, especially if it can help reduce driver-related accidents.
But Bradley says driverless trucks are a game-changing technology that is changing the industry at an evolutionary pace, which means those changes won’t be quick.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a baby. They’re teaching a computer to drive. There’s a lot of great things coming out of self-driving trucks, self-driving vehicles.”
Yet many believe the driverless industry is still a long way off.
As more self-driving trucks hit Arizona’s roads in the future, companies like Waymo are working to build confidence that when you eventually see a driverless tractor-trailer, you’ll feel safe. .
“Constant ongoing training on technology to help advance through transparency.”