As I approached the two “18 wheelers” this morning, one in the lane to my right and the other in the lane to my left; I must confess trepidation. You understand, splitting two semi-tractor trailers is unnerving.
But I have done it before. No big deal. Until I looked up into the cab of the truck to my right, only to find it was without a driver and as I could looked up into the cab to my left and it too, was without a truck driver.
No, that did not really happen this morning, but it might in the very near future if some powerful players in technology have their way. “Drone trucks” or driverless tractor trailers are a thing of the present. Daimler Trucks has demonstrated a self-driving tractor-trailer and Volvo has tested driving computer systems capable of drone vehicles. Super tech companies like Google and Apple have been testing for some time and now infamous Uber has jumped into the mix.
Here in Florida, drone trucks will soon be used in highway construction projects as “barrier trucks”. Barrier trucks are those that follow the truck doing the road work, such as striping on a highway, and assures that if anyone is rear ended, it will be the barrier truck. This protects the workers you usually see in the rear of the working truck. In the case of the drone barrier truck, it fixes, through GPS and radio signals on the lead truck and reacts as necessary to the actions of the lead truck.
Using drone trucks to protect workers seems like a good idea, but driverless semi-tractor trailers at 80 miles per hour? I am afraid I remain unconvinced.
One advantage to driverless trucks would be the absence of a truck driver compelled by profit motivated companies to exceed daily driving limits.