The driverless truck is coming, and it's going to automate millions of jobs

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Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren't the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks.

Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.
The driverless truck is coming, and it's going to automate millions of jobs | TechCrunch



Joe Mobley
  • Profile picture of the author irawr
    Banned
    The meth industry is going to take a major hit as well if this rolls out any time soon.

    Also, if you think Google is testing automated cars for regular people and not thinking B2B, you're wrong.
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  • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
    Banned
    Great news. There is a no more dangerous group of drivers on our highways than truckers. If you take the time to look up the stats - you'll be appalled.

    What we need are commercial drones that can handle shipping containers. :-)

    Cheers. - Frank
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    • Profile picture of the author Joe Mobley
      Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

      Great news. There is a no more dangerous group of drivers on our highways than truckers. If you take the time to look up the stats - you'll be appalled.

      ...

      Cheers. - Frank
      Yep, mentioned in the article;

      In addition, once the technology is mature enough to be rolled out commercially, we will also enjoy considerable safety benefits.

      This year alone more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving trucks than in all domestic airline crashes in the last 45 years combined.

      At the same time, more truck drivers were killed on the job, 835, than workers in any other occupation in the U.S.

      Joe Mobley
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  • Profile picture of the author David Beroff
    Glad the article touched on the support side, such as all of the people currently employed by truck stops and the like.

    I was a bit confused at the predicted stats. I thought most trucks are driven by teams of two, so it'd be more like 22 hours that they drive per day, at around 60mph. Compared to the automated driver going nearly 24 hours at 45mph, it doesn't seem to be more efficient, mileage-wise. (Cost-wise, of course, it certainly is.)
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I think it would be safer, cheaper and far more efficient. I can imagine a time when one lane of the highways would be for big trucks at 45 mph....

    ...except by then they'll probably be going a lot faster.

    I can imagine human drivers taking the loaded (or unloaded) trucks to an entry ramp to a major highway and pulling them into something that looks like a weigh station....where one by one they are "beamed" on their way...

    Could it be the resulting safety records of driverless trucks might be the impetus needed to accept driverless cars on major highways? I can imagine a time when people are not allowed to drive themselves on large highways...for the safety of others.

    Another thought: If there is a necessarity for a "launch area" for trucks to enter the highway....the huge network of weigh stations would be a good place to do it. They are already in place - and trucks could be weighed and sent on their way.

    Trucks ready to exit the highway could also enter the weigh station where drivers delivering one truck "to the highway" could then drive an "arriving truck" into the city for unloading. Would be pretty slick.
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  • Profile picture of the author jdjenkins
    If the robot trucks drive close behind one another, they can also save more fuel. But I wish they could shift more stuff by rail, and not use the roads so much!
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by jdjenkins View Post

      If the robot trucks drive close behind one another, they can also save more fuel. But I wish they could shift more stuff by rail, and not use the roads so much!
      Driving real close ALSO means that collision detection, accuracy, weight, and classing must be MORE accurate. Classing, for example must include weight capacity, as well as route type, width and height, It must get the accurate weight of the whole vehicle and drive far enough apart that it and the other vehicles don't exceed some fraction of the capacity. And a collision could blow everything out of the water. If they are smart, they will STILL have maybe 5 seconds of space between the vehicles, just in case, at least if it is something like a bridge or raised road, etc....

      Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author David Beroff
        Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

        And a collision could blow everything out of the water.
        Of course. But also consider that the trucks will all be networked together. If they do have to change speed, even suddenly, I've got to imagine that they could all do so at the exact same time, so as to reduce the chances of collision. That may seem far-fetched today, but surely that's one of the plans on the table.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kurt
        Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

        Driving real close ALSO means that collision detection, accuracy, weight, and classing must be MORE accurate. Classing, for example must include weight capacity, as well as route type, width and height, It must get the accurate weight of the whole vehicle and drive far enough apart that it and the other vehicles don't exceed some fraction of the capacity. And a collision could blow everything out of the water. If they are smart, they will STILL have maybe 5 seconds of space between the vehicles, just in case, at least if it is something like a bridge or raised road, etc....

        Steve
        They were testing self driving cars in San Diego 25+ years ago on the highway. When I lived there then, I'd see them all the time. These cars drove in tightly packed formations of 5 or 6 cars to "draft" each other and cut down on wind drag, greatly increasing mileage. Yes, they had humans in the vehicles to over-see things, but the cars were self driving.

        BTW, have you ever seen an auto race? Did you notice how close they drive together at high speeds? Why do they do this and don't you think a computer will have faster reaction times than even the best drivers, and at lower speeds?

        Average human reaction time is about .7 seconds. With computers, it's virtually instantaneous. How far does a truck travel 60 MPH go in .7 seconds?

        Weight is a factor with or without a driver. That's why there are weight stations all along the highways. Weight will be calculated into the best following distance and stopping ability of the trucks, with the trucks with the longest stopping distance placed at the head of the pack. Simply putting the trucks with the longest stopping distances first is an easy fix.

        Any truck over the weight limit for something like a bridge will not go over that bridge nor will they go on streets and roads they are too heavy for, instead they will take a detour. Do you think every human truck driver always follows the rules?

        The clearances needed will be programmed in and routes will take this into consideration. It isn't as if human drivers have never failed at this.
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        • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          They were testing self driving cars in San Diego 25+ years ago on the highway. When I lived there then, I'd see them all the time. These cars drove in tightly packed formations of 5 or 6 cars to "draft" each other and cut down on wind drag, greatly increasing mileage. Yes, they had humans in the vehicles to over-see things, but the cars were self driving.

          BTW, have you ever seen an auto race? Did you notice how close they drive together at high speeds? Why do they do this and don't you think a computer will have faster reaction times than even the best drivers, and at lower speeds?

          Average human reaction time is about .7 seconds. With computers, it's virtually instantaneous. How far does a truck travel 60 MPH go in .7 seconds?

          Weight is a factor with or without a driver. That's why there are weight stations all along the highways. Weight will be calculated into the best following distance and stopping ability of the trucks, with the trucks with the longest stopping distance placed at the head of the pack. Simply putting the trucks with the longest stopping distances first is an easy fix.

          Any truck over the weight limit for something like a bridge will not go over that bridge nor will they go on streets and roads they are too heavy for, instead they will take a detour. Do you think every human truck driver always follows the rules?

          The clearances needed will be programmed in and routes will take this into consideration. It isn't as if human drivers have never failed at this.
          There you go again - offering cogent and rational ideas and facts into a discussion. You really have some nerve.

          Cheers. - Frank
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        • Profile picture of the author seasoned
          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          They were testing self driving cars in San Diego 25+ years ago on the highway. When I lived there then, I'd see them all the time. These cars drove in tightly packed formations of 5 or 6 cars to "draft" each other and cut down on wind drag, greatly increasing mileage. Yes, they had humans in the vehicles to over-see things, but the cars were self driving.
          OK, but one mistake I recently read about happened only months ago. Also, heavy trucks have to worry about more things that cars do.

          BTW, have you ever seen an auto race? Did you notice how close they drive together at high speeds? Why do they do this and don't you think a computer will have faster reaction times than even the best drivers, and at lower speeds?
          Well, races don't stop, and they hope they don't have to worry about crashes. They ARE trying to go as fast as possible. You can't do that if a sudden jolt could cause damage. And WHO CARES how fast reaction times of computers are. They can't use that speed ful bore anyway. If they did, the truck could get hurt, cargo could get hurt, and the truck could skid. Ever hear of traction and inertia? Heck, even I don't stop as fast as I can. I have done that maybe 5 or 6 times in the 35 or so years I have been driving. If I DID stop as fast as I could, I would have the same thing happen that did those times I stopped that fast. Some loss of control, and damage.

          Average human reaction time is about .7 seconds. With computers, it's virtually instantaneous. How far does a truck travel 60 MPH go in .7 seconds?
          Like I said, you can't stop that quickly. The reaction time must be only the start of pressure applied. And this means that the stopping distance is long. Coputers don't change those rules.

          Weight is a factor with or without a driver. That's why there are weight stations all along the highways.
          This is conveyed to the drivers through signs! And how does a computer handle the weighing? The government doesn't trust companies NOW, why would they for automated vehicles?

          Weight will be calculated into the best following distance and stopping ability of the trucks, with the trucks with the longest stopping distance placed at the head of the pack. Simply putting the trucks with the longest stopping distances first is an easy fix.
          I'm just taking into account the changes that happen all the time, inaccuracies in various things, and how there is NO record of a lot of these things. HECK, I worked on part of the 911 system once. A whole bunch of street names and addressing methods were changed with apparently no real standard as to notification. If they can't do THAT in such an important infrastructure, how can you trust them to properly retrofit the infrastructure for such things.

          Any truck over the weight limit for something like a bridge will not go over that bridge nor will they go on streets and roads they are too heavy for, instead they will take a detour. Do you think every human truck driver always follows the rules?
          They actually had a show once that even showed things like missing trucks. In one case, the HUMAN driver miscalculated height, and ended up getting stuck under a bridge. The truck was about 6" too tall, and the bridge ripped off part of the top. So yeah, I realize humans fail sometimes. At least the human figured out there was a problem. So how does an automated system automatically and reliably do that?

          The clearances needed will be programmed in and routes will take this into consideration. It isn't as if human drivers have never failed at this.
          Yep, that is the best way it can be done now, but that isn't good enough.

          Steve
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          • Profile picture of the author Kurt
            Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

            OK, but one mistake I recently read about happened only months ago. Also, heavy trucks have to worry about more things that cars do.
            One mistake? Can you please tell me how many human mistakes have been made over the same time period? Please don't count only deaths and include all "accidents".

            Well, races don't stop, and they hope they don't have to worry about crashes.
            Well, it's illegal to stop on the highway too and most of us hope we don't have to worry about crashes on highways also.


            They ARE trying to go as fast as possible. You can't do that if a sudden jolt could cause damage. And WHO CARES how fast reaction times of computers are.
            Reasonable, realistic, reality-based people care. A computer will hit the brakes .7 seconds sooner. That's a fact. I believe that's around 70 feet at 60 MPH, and that's a big deal. Assuming my figure of 70 feet is correct, this means that trucks can be 70 feet closer together than they are now.


            They can't use that speed ful bore anyway. If they did, the truck could get hurt, cargo could get hurt, and the truck could skid.
            Irrelevant. These same conditions apply to human drivers as well.


            Ever hear of traction and inertia? Heck, even I don't stop as fast as I can. I have done that maybe 5 or 6 times in the 35 or so years I have been driving. If I DID stop as fast as I could, I would have the same thing happen that did those times I stopped that fast. Some loss of control, and damage.
            Ever hear of anti-lock brakes? You know the ones that are computer controlled to help vehicles stop faster and in straighter lines? How long have they been around? 25 years or so already?
            Like I said, you can't stop that quickly. The reaction time must be only the start of pressure applied. And this means that the stopping distance is long. Coputers don't change those rules.
            Like I've tried to explain to you and you just can't accept. At 60 MPH the average vehicle will travel about (I think) 70 feet before a human even touches the brake pedal. Assuming the vehicles have the same stopping distance and hit the brakes that the same time, they won't collide. And like I suggested above, if they don't have the same stopping distance, put those with the longest stopping distance at the front of the caravan. Let me know if I need to type this out yet again.
            This is conveyed to the drivers through signs! And how does a computer handle the weighing? The government doesn't trust companies NOW, why would they for automated vehicles?
            How about "conveying" to the trucks though programming and wifi?

            I'm just taking into account the changes that happen all the time, inaccuracies in various things, and how there is NO record of a lot of these things. HECK, I worked on part of the 911 system once. A whole bunch of street names and addressing methods were changed with apparently no real standard as to notification. If they can't do THAT in such an important infrastructure, how can you trust them to properly retrofit the infrastructure for such things.
            How can you trust humans to be alert, sober, paying attention, well rested, have quick reflexes, avoid road rage, be polite, obey all traffic laws, not be in a rush due to financial pressures, and not make poor decisions?


            Yep, that is the best way it can be done now, but that isn't good enough.

            Steve
            How do you know it isn't good enough?
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            • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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              Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

              How do you know it isn't good enough?
              Because he only sees the negative in anything and everything. :-)

              Cheers. - Frank
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              • Profile picture of the author Kurt
                Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

                Because he only sees the negative in anything and everything. :-)

                Cheers. - Frank
                I've brought that to his attention before. It he doesn't think of it, it can't possibly be a good idea.


                Often people will see an issue and instead of looking for a solution for that particular issue, they dismiss the entire concept. They also attribute problems only to the one side of their agreement.


                For example the clearance of underpasses. For seasoned, he only brings up the issue for self driving trucks while dismissing the fact that human success rate isn't exactly perfect. Self driving trucks don't have to be perfect. They only have to be as good or better as humans to make them viable.


                We also tend to forget there were a lot of "issues" when the automobile was first introduced too. Some people take time to accept technological changes. Many people called matches "devil sticks" when they were first invented. Many had similar feelings about electricity.
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                • Profile picture of the author socialentry
                  Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

                  We also tend to forget there were a lot of "issues" when the automobile was first introduced too. Some people take time to accept technological changes. Many people called matches "devil sticks" when they were first invented. Many had similar feelings about electricity.
                  I once talked to a peasant who thought working with IT equipment was interfering with his religious practices. I don't remember what exactly was his concern but it was something like "Switches and routers gets me away from the buddha therefore it is bad"

                  Such people exist. They should be put into furnaces and cremated.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Truck drivers DO do more than drive. ALSO, there have been crashes,

    1.Trucks often have to take different routes. How does the automatic system handle that?
    2. Various things, like detours, height restrictions, etc... must be taken into account.
    3. They may have to be weighed and get clearance, etc....
    4. Fuel,
    5. controlled delivery.
    6. loading help.
    7. etc....

    Of course, as I said earlier, thereis NO infrastructure to handle automatic cars. It is amazing they have done as well as they did, but there is no accurate up to the minute updates and classing of paths.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Many years ago a man who job was to study traffic patterns on highways made a comment that stuck with me.

    We were talking about high speed traffic accidents on major highways and he said you could cut accidents to a negligible number if you could eliminate human error.

    He said if all vehicles in one lane of a highway were going the same speed and stayed in the same lane.... there would be no need to pass and no reason to hit another vehicle.

    He said speed doesn't cause accidents - it's the judgment of the driver that does. Too fast for road conditions - too slow for other traffic in the area - passing - changing lanes - distractions...they are all human error.
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      Many years ago a man who job was to study traffic patterns on highways made a comment that stuck with me.

      We were talking about high speed traffic accidents on major highways and he said you could cut accidents to a negligible number if you could eliminate human error.

      He said if all vehicles in one lane of a highway were going the same speed and stayed in the same lane.... there would be no need to pass and no reason to hit another vehicle.

      He said speed doesn't cause accidents - it's the judgment of the driver that does. Too fast for road conditions - too slow for other traffic in the area - passing - changing lanes - distractions...they are all human error.
      Why do you blame "human" error?

      1. Isn't ANY error BAD?
      2. Computers DON'T think! WHO put the infrastructure down, designed them, and programmed them? *****HUMANS*****! And remember, the infrastructure was NOT designed for this.

      Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    lets not forget the enormous infrastructure cost involved getting the highways and byways ready for this. And, lets take a guess as to who will be paying this................

    You guessed it, the taxpayer

    al
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    According to the news, much of our road system is falling apart and needs to be replaced anyway...might as well do it right!
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    Just wait a second – so what you're telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      According to the news, much of our road system is falling apart and needs to be replaced anyway...might as well do it right!
      Well, the cost will be FAR higher, and it could take decades.

      Steve
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  • If I think about all the horrible accidents that takes place on the countries roads then my heart says it is a good thing, but when I consider the millions of drivers who may not have any other professional training and who may be stranded without any employment possibilities then I have serious doubts. Isn't this just another way for the rich to become richer, while the poor will grow poorer still. Besides will the economy to able to support the welfare projects which is going to be necessary to care for all those unemployed drivers. Ultimately the cost of charity and the impact which all those extra unemployed will have on the economy and the standard of living in the country makes driver less trucks something which should be carefully consider before it is implemented.
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  • Profile picture of the author JesseGilbert1
    Well yeah and also AI might take all the writing jobs.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Not driverless but they have a network in Australia for Triple Road Trains.

    In some areas they have B Doubles towing a trailer under 36.5m...

    or the triple road trains run under 53.5 metres long or 175ft.

    that's a long truck.

    Best regards,

    Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author socialentry
    its about time
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  • Profile picture of the author lostsouls
    I am in my Final year in uni and we built an Automated car that works with a vision system.

    Worked quite well but would still need a driver in the car for coming to traffic lights and round abouts etc

    That said we were a group of students with limited budget so god only knows what a huge company like google could achieve.

    Personally id prefer flying cars like you see in the cartoons
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  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    1 human error = 1 accident

    1 computer error = How many accidents?

    I just don't want to give up driving, and freedom.

    al
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    • Profile picture of the author Kurt
      Originally Posted by agmccall View Post

      1 human error = 1 accident

      1 computer error = How many accidents?

      I just don't want to give up driving, and freedom.

      al
      As an ex cab driver that spent many hours dealing with human drivers, I'll put my trust in computers.

      And I want the freedom of not having idiots crashing into me as well as being able to go faster and drive 24 hours a day while I kick back and eat, drink and sleep. I just hope I live long enough to enjoy being able to tell my fully equipped RV to take me to Las Vegas or New Orleans.

      I also have a feeling there's plenty of blind people, seniors, disabled people, folks that have had seizures and DUIs that would also like the freedom of being able to get around from door to door whenever they want and not have to worry about parking or bus stops.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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      Originally Posted by agmccall View Post

      1 human error = 1 accident

      1 computer error = How many accidents?

      I just don't want to give up driving, and freedom.

      al
      There is nothing in life that I love more than putting the top down on the Bimmer and taking a long drive to the shore. Of course what could be a perfect day is thoroughly destroyed by dealing with tailgaters, texting morons and other drivers out to kill me.

      I would surrender my car in a heartbeat if it would go a long way to eliminating the slaughter that takes place on our highways.

      The most overused and misunderstood word in the American lexicon is 'freedom.' It's a wonderful concept that actually has very little to do with reality.

      Cheers. - Frank

      P.S. I thanked your post by accident. lol
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    • Profile picture of the author whateverpedia
      Originally Posted by agmccall View Post

      I just don't want to give up driving, and freedom.
      Traffic jams, getting pulled over by police, a fortune on fuel, taxes, dependence on a machine, constant vigilance in case it gets stolen or damaged, a fortune in repairs if it does get damaged, a fortune spent on maintenance, a fortune spent on insurance, a fortune spent on registration, inconvenience of having to share the road with others, damage to the environment by having to build more and more roads, pollution, and so on, and so on...

      Interesting definition of the word "freedom".
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      • Profile picture of the author agmccall
        Originally Posted by whateverpedia View Post

        Traffic jams, getting pulled over by police, a fortune on fuel, taxes, dependence on a machine, constant vigilance in case it gets stolen or damaged, a fortune in repairs if it does get damaged, a fortune spent on maintenance, a fortune spent on insurance, a fortune spent on registration, inconvenience of having to share the road with others, damage to the environment by having to build more and more roads, pollution, and so on, and so on...

        Interesting definition of the word "freedom".
        Of all the things you listed, the only thing that will be eliminated by Driverless vehicles is getting pulled over by police. And, I can eliminate all those things by choosing to live in a city and not own a car, but that is what freedom really is, the ability to choose.

        al
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  • Profile picture of the author Zodiax
    Seasoned is anti progressive
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