Trucks are moving past cars in the ‘space-race’ of self-drive vehicles. Cars are much harder vehicles to predict than trucks which follow a long, straight path with steady traffic flow. Due to bikes, scooters and pedestrians on the roads, drivers are challenged everyday not to unleash their rage – and if most humans can’t see bikes before they’re less than a car length in front, how can we expect robots to?
Pickup the Pace
In 2016, Aurora Driver was formed and aimed to produce self-driving cars. In 2019, They are working with Paccers, Volvo, Hyundai and Volkswagen and decided to change routes and invest into self-driving trucks instead promising a 2023/2024 deadline for their technology to become available, meaning that in a year’s time, we can hope to see driverless trucks delivering goods with less delays, less traffic and meticulous delivery. $11 Billion has been fuelled into autonomous truck start-ups in the last 2.5 years, and shippers are estimated to save $756 billion a year (American Trucking Association). Aurora now plans to go public, joining a convoy of other companies such as Embark Trucks, working with shippers HP and ABinBev and carriers Werner Enterprises & Knight Swift Transportation; ‘Plus’, who are testing self-drive trucks in China and the US, and TuSimple, who are running pilots with UPS and are custom building a truck with Navistar. Embark say that using driverless technology, 80 cents a mile can be saved, cutting costs in half, and given the current petrol crisis, that’s like cutting your mortgage down the middle.
No Stops, No Delays
Autonomous trucks will help reduce accidents and save lives, collecting data as they go. They will speed up the whole process of shipping and delivery, delay-free, which seems to be an issue since the pandemic. Pandemic-related dubiety is still on everybody’s minds, and recent investor enthusiasm reflects the importance of data and logistics in this strange time. There are driver shortages and port delays due to the ‘amazon effect,’ as everyone had become comfortable at home and prefers to get things delivered, and who can blame them? Everything is instant; instant coffee, takeaways, deliveries of groceries, clothes, plants – anything you can think of. Nobody has to wait for anything anymore, and the next generation will grow up impatient and demanding due to the instantaneous culture we have garnered. We don’t even have to race to the bathroom while the adverts are on anymore, series are uploaded in bulk, and we have the luxury of hitting pause.
Truckers drive 300 days out of the year and do on average 500 miles a day (125,000 yearly), it is one of the deadliest jobs in the US (4,000 deaths per year) as any 80,000-pound missile shuttling 70mph down the highway would be. But these companies are dedicating lots of time and huge amounts of money on trying. Between these companies and more, autonomous trucks are here, functional and ready to give truckers back their time.
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