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OPINION: No matter the technology, trucks still need professional drivers

Driver-less trucks. Really? My new mantra these days when technology fails me (which is often) is, “…and this is why there will be no driver-less trucks in the foreseeable future.”Doug_Romanuk_Feature_Image

If Siri can’t understand what I am saying half of the time, or my phone disconnects from Bluetooth which it does consistently, or my computer shuts down without notice, why do we think that a “driver-less truck” will have 100 per cent up-time with no issues that would prevent safe passage for 80,000 lb. to 100,000 lb. travelling on public streets and highways?

Autonomous vehicles are alive and well today and play a vital role in safety and driver assist. Automation is not designed to eliminate the driver but rather to enhance driver performance as it relates to safety, level of fatigue, etc.

Fact is autonomous features have been in existence for quite some time and will continue to develop. CAV (collision-avoidance systems) with sensors that will brake assist when necessary create safety opportunities where technology thinks and reacts quickly to assist the driver. Steer assist will soon be available and will assist in driver fatigue by correcting steering where elements like wind and other conditions must be managed.

Goodness, let’s go back a few decades and talk about cruise control and the automation that was created for driver comfort and lawful and safe consistent speed travel.

Let’s be clear that this does not solve the driver shortage issue and in no way should be made into something resembling that. There is no time in the foreseeable future where we do not see a driver behind the wheel at the ready to “manually” perform whatever is necessary for safe passage.

Finally, the engineers at Tesla obviously feel strongly about a driver being in cab given these thought leaders completely redesigned the cab of the new Tesla electric truck. Why redesign or give any thought to something that wouldn’t be necessary?

Next time Siri tells you she doesn’t know what you are saying or your computer shuts down or technology throws you some other unexpected curve ball, think about a truck driving itself that is 100 per cent reliant on technology and then give a handshake, smile or big thank you to the next professional truck driver you see. We can’t live without them!

What is your opinion on truck automation? Please comment below. 

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Shifting to Automation: Discussing the impact of Truck Platooning & Autonomous trucks

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