There is little doubt this dawn of the age of autonomous trucks represents the paradigm shift which will take trucking much further in the 21st century. The developments in recent years have seen quantum shift after quantum shift in what automated systems can do.
Many of our older drivers in the trucking industry come from a time where automated gearboxes and even cruise control were not only unheard of, but unimaginable. The reliance at that time was purely on the driver’s skills, their ability to make the Roadranger sing and modulate speed to ensure the diff didn’t blow up.
The pace of change has been so fast the technology is well ahead of what the trucking industry is wanting to do and much farther ahead of the strict legislation which will be needed to regulate autonomous vehicles and share out the responsibility fairly, if and when something goes wrong.
All of the technology to make the proposed scenario in this video is already on the market. Even the systems to integrate all of the constituent parts can be bought today. We are limited by our own systems, insurance, road rules and ability to bring all of this you-beaut technology to the point where it does make the paradigm shift in productivity we have been promised from these technologies.
This video from Volvo shows one of the tasks which is likely to be handled autonomously in the second wave of driverless trucks, following their introduction in applications in industries like mining already.
The stevedores yard is a controlled environment. we already have completely autonomous straddle carriers running around in the ports of Australia, behind their Jurassic Park-like fencing systems. The next obvious step is to have the truck entering the port precinct, heading off on its own to a point at which the straddle can drop a container onto the skel and the truck can head back out of the precinct.