The excitement surrounding autonomous vehicles has only been growing in recent years. If you’re in the fleet industry, you’ve likely wondered what this could mean for you. It’s hard to imagine that there will one day come a time when driverless trucks are delivering our goods across the country. However, that is the future that many innovators have in mind. Is it possible? If so, how far away is that future? Let’s explore the possibilities.
How are Autonomous Vehicles Being Used Right Now?
The truth is autonomous vehicles have had a difficult time so far. Many companies have had difficulty getting themselves off the ground for various reasons. Some of these reasons include the rigorous testing requirements for autonomous vehicles and the unclear regulations since the technology is so new. However, there has been some success.
In San Francisco, a company called Cruise has been using autonomous vehicles to give drivers rides all over the city, with plans to expand to Austin and Phoenix by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Waymo is already operating in Phoenix to take people to and from Sky Harbor Airport. It is also operating in parts of San Francisco.
Zoox and Nuro have constructed factories to create custom autonomous vehicles, while Starship Technologies, the leading robot delivery service, has added new service areas and completed 4 million paid autonomous deliveries.
Are there any autonomous trucks on the road? In very rare circumstances, there are. Walmart is operating fully autonomous trucks in Arkansas. Meanwhile, Canadian food and pharmacy retailer Loblaw is also using driverless trucks. Uber Freight has also been researching the possibility of long-haul trucking with autonomous vehicles. However, there is still a long road ahead.
What Does the Future Hold for Autonomous Trucks?
The discussion around autonomous vehicles right now involves what’s called a hub-to-hub model. This means that human drivers will handle the beginning and ends of the trips, while the truck will drive itself during the middle part that involves highways. This involves 25 billion miles of our long-distance interstate system.
This model, of course, is most feasible with long-haul trucking, because the fraction of the cost made up by the first and last miles is smaller. Using a hybrid model will address the driver shortage issue by allowing drivers to work closer to home, with shorter hours. It will also keep trucking jobs from being eliminated, allowing people to keep their jobs and enjoy a better quality of life.
Keep Up to Date on the Latest in Autonomous Driving
Hub-to-hub autonomous driving is the next step in autonomous trucking, and it may be closer than you think. Be sure to stay up to date with Azuga’s blog to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates in this technology.