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Truckers and techies disagree about arrival of driverless trucking

Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma

Truckers and those involved in autonomous vehicle technology disagree on how long it will be before driverless trucks will make their way to U.S. roadways.

According to Quartz, R.J. Cervantes, director of legislative affairs for California Trucking Association, which represents fleet owners, believes driverless trucking is still in its infancy and truckers who comment in online forums agree, citing several obstacles to automated trucking that many believe are insurmountable, including regulatory hurdles. Navigating city streets and pumping gas are a couple of others that lead many to believe driverless trucking is a long way from becoming a reality. 

But many in Silicon Valley who are involved with autonomous vehicle technology see all of those obstacles as mere speed bumps on the road to automated trucking, which some think could be a reality within the next five years.

As Quartz reports, the arrival of driverless trucking and the subsequent political opposition to the changing technology’s impact on the freight industry reveals a big divide in how each group believes the industry will evolve.

Market forces will likely dictate the outcome. Some freight companies have calculated that driverless trucking could double output at about half the cost, even with partial automation, according to Quartz.

And the technology is already being taken for a test drive. Just two months ago, Anheuser Busch successfully completed a mostly driverless delivery of beer on Interstate 25 in Colorado - an onboard operator had to maneuver the truck onto and off of exit ramps