Self Driving Trucks – Safe or Not?
Feb 23, 2023
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 23, 2023 – While a self-driving truck may sound like an interesting idea, one wonders if it is truly safe or not. At present, there have been no accidents involving a self-driving truck, but, like self-driving cars, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
Self-driving trucks in Texas? Whether drivers realize it or not, they are sharing roads in North Texas with self-driving semis. They do have drivers in them, for now, but the plan is to perfect the technology and eliminate the drivers. Kodiak Robotics partnered with hauler U.S. Xpress to put the autonomous trucks on routes between Dallas and Atlanta.
Although it may seem like a bad thing for the trucking industry to reduce the number of truckers in an industry already facing a driver shortage, it appears the opposite may be the case. It is expected that reducing the number of long-haul drivers may free them up for shorter routes and offer drivers a more flexible, family-oriented driving schedule.
The self-driving trucks are comprised of standard semi bodies, outfitted with computers, sensors, and other technology to get them road-ready. The trucks look like any other tractor-trailer a driver may see on the freeway. There is a driver, for now, who can take control of the vehicle if even one sensor quits working.
“The real question here though,” asks Austin trucking accident attorney Brooks Schuelke “is what happens when the truck does not have a driver, a sensor quits working, or the truck finds a situation it is not programmed for?” “We’ve all read about driverless cars being in some horrific accidents.”
Whenever technology or artificial intelligence (AI) is involved in a project, there is a surety that at some point something technical may go wrong. The self-driving truck’s sensors can be seen on the giant side-view mirrors, but they are also mounted throughout the vehicle to continuously monitor everything that is happening on the road. There are 3 different sensors involved, cameras, radar, and lidar, each providing different information.
The data received from all the sensors is fed into the truck’s onboard computers 10 times per second per sensor. This sounds remarkable and safe. However, anyone who has worked with computers knows there is always a chance of a glitch. A glitch in the onboard system of a truck without a driver, doing highway speeds, is a nightmare looking for a place to happen. “Legally speaking, liability issues in such a case would be horrific, complicated, and take years to sort out,” said Schuelke.
It is alleged that the sensors can detect objects around it on the road, determine what the objects are, and are doing and react appropriately. The sensors can react faster than a human driver, apparently making the driverless truck safer.
“No matter how many hours this type of technology is tested, there remains the shadow of a technical glitch that can upend the best-laid plans of those who support autonomous big rigs,” added Schuelke. While the idea may hold interesting applications, one wonders if the risks outweigh the benefits.
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