Tractor trailers are essential in that they transport goods and materials we depend on but unfortunately, they are not always safe. In some cases, they are not well maintained. In other cases, they are not operated properly. In either situation, there is a very real risk of a semi truck crash, which can prove to be catastrophic.
However, one car maker is working to develop a system that could hopefully minimize incidences stemming from improper or unsafe operation. According to reports, Daimler is hoping to start testing autonomous trucks that can be operated by a computer.
The car maker says it hopes to start testing technology that can regulate speed, apply brakes, sense lanes and other vehicles and navigate routes without a human operator. While trucks would still have actual drivers behind the wheel for safety and emergency purposes, the technology could practically eliminate conditions that can and do lead to crashes.
Truck drivers can get tired or distracted behind the wheel; they can take unnecessary risks when they are in a hurry or have been on the road for several hours. Some drivers use drugs, alcohol or medications that affect their driving abilities. Further, humans are capable of making mistakes like speeding or missing a turn that can lead to a loss of control.
Computerizing operation can help to reduce or eliminate these elements and keep other motorists safer. However, the plan for these systems is not that they will completely replace human drivers. The intention is that the system could, for instance, take over on late night trips on highways when there are fewer cars on the road but a high risk for truck driver error.
While the system has yet to be fully tested, it is certainly an interesting thought that these vehicles could be on Georgia roads in the next few years.
Until that happens, however, truck operation will be completely dependent on the people who drive and maintain them. Should anything go wrong leading to a serious truck accident, these parties can and should be held accountable for any negligence that led to damages.
Source: BBC, "Autonomous trucks: Daimler seeks licence for road tests," July 27, 2015