The Self-Driving Truck

Transportation industry factoringIt is no secret that the American economy is utterly dependent on the trucking industry. Therefore, there is a constant effort to maintain and update the tools accessible to drivers during their long hauls. To this end, a recent invention has potentially changed the trucking industry forever: trucks that can drive themselves. Google had already announced that one of their self-driving cars had driven more than 100,000 miles without an accident, and now the focus has shifted to the trucking industry. The Daimler automotive company recently took their well-tested, self-driving truck from their private facilities to the public highways of Nevada.
A truck that can drive itself would provide long-haul truckers with the opportunity to take breaks on their rides in order to check email, keep up with their family and friends, and rest their eyes. The trucks still require a licensed, capable truck driver in order for them to operate, as they are only meant to self-operate on the highway. The highway presents a unique opportunity for trucks to take advantage of the open space and long distances that surround them, as opposed to the clustered streets that fill cities. Furthermore, the manufacturers of the self-driving truck hope that it can lead to better safety on the road, a problem that has been lacking address in the past couple years. 2012 by itself saw 330,000 traffic accidents involving large trucks that killed nearly 4,000 people, most of them a result of driver error. Trucks driven by humans kill people, lots of people, every year, something that this new age of trucks and their makers hope to change.
Unfortunately, there is a dark and extremely complicated side to the introduction of autonomous trucks. There are very serious ethical debates that must be had and answered prior to these trucks becoming completely legal on public roads. The truck designers must, in a sense, play god as they would have to include programming for worst-case scenario decisions such as deciding which way to go and who they would kill in a high speed crash. In these unfortunate scenarios, people are forced to make the same difficult decisions in an instant, based on their gut feeling. The concern is that a machine does not possess a gut feeling, a conscious, or any sort moral compass to help them make this decision.
Another pressing concern with the self-operating trucks is the job stability within the trucking industry. It is safe to assume that these trucks will continue to be modified until the programmers have created a perfect version. Once that model is created, it will be repeated and reproduced in mass proportions. Morgan Stanley claims that we will have utter autonomous capability by 2022, and trucks and cars as we know them will go extinct over the following two decades. While this may sound great to the programmers, it presents a serious problem to the employees of the trucking industry. There are 8.7 million people involved in the trucking industry, 3.5 million of them being drivers. The disruption of these people’s careers could lead to a massive impact on the economy of our nation.
Although much of the concern is simply speculation of what the future may hold, it is clear that every angle of the trucking industry must be evaluated before these self-driving trucks can hit the road– it is a complicated process. However, financing your company doesn’t have to be. Take a look at our freight broker factoring programs and never be short of cash again.