With the advent of new technology nowadays, there are a lot of new concepts that might have only been a dream a few decades ago. The world is more connected than ever thanks to the internet. We can talk to anyone at any time we want with devices that fit in our pockets. Together, with this new era of modern technology, a lot of changes are also happening to how we transport our goods from one place to another.
In the world of logistics, a lot of things have changed in recent years. Our transport vehicles have become more reliable, durable and technologically advanced. For example, Tesla is planning to ship out its Semi trucks by 2023. A marvel of modern engineering and technology, this truck is something like no other – packed with technology and smart features.
But the question remains, are we advanced enough to be able to have driverless trucks?
In order for autonomous driving to work, there are a lot of technologies involved. These vehicles are essentially computers with wheels. Mounted in different parts of any vehicle with autopilot capabilities are a lot of sensors. These devices measure speed, distance, and a whole lot of data that goes into the vehicle’s computer for processing. Cameras are also included for scene recognition. These devices will enable the vehicle to identify the difference between a human or a deer crossing the road. Most vehicles with autopilot capability are also able to read signs on the road so that it can guide the driver with speed limits, for example.
Radar is also an important aspect of autopilot technology for land vehicles. Using radar, the vehicle will be able to know if it is on collision with something and can safely deploy its automated braking system. One more thing that makes the whole system more incredible is artificial intelligence. That might sound a bit futuristic for a vehicle but AI makes it possible for the onboard computer in a vehicle to make or suggest certain decisions for improved safety and efficiency. Almost all data gathered from the different sensors of an autonomous vehicle will be processed using AI. These data might include images from cameras of other vehicles using the same system. This is commonly referred to as a neural network. Which basically means that it is a collection of all the data that all vehicles from the same manufacturer share in order to make its systems better.
The world is now pretty modern, so what makes the production of fully-autonomous trucks a reality?
There might be a lot of factors affecting the fast development for fully automated logistics vehicles. One is cost. The technology is fairly new and like all new things, it will require a lot of money to develop. Remember the days when phones were so expensive? Also, each manufacturer has their own proprietary technology, making the development more difficult and slow. We do not expect them to share best practices
with one another but this matter adds more time in the evolution of driverless technology.
Second, regulations are not easy to comply with. Since the technology is new, land transport agencies are also trying to figure out new policies that will keep motorists safe while on the road. That is why if you were to drive a car with autopilot capabilities, you are most likely to have to agree to a disclaimer. These disclaimers are safety nets for manufacturers for liabilities in case the autopilot does not work as well as expected. This means that that dream of yours to sleep while cruising through your 500-mile journey might not become a reality until the next couple of decades.
Will it be Possible?
At this time, there exist a lot of vehicles with self-driving capability. The biggest one that is known to most people might be the announcement of Tesla’s Semi that is set to be released in 2023.
The technology already exists but it might take a long time for people to fully adapt to the new idea of letting a truck go on its own ala Optimus Prime style. While there are a lot of economic advantages, especially for logistics companies, we might have to wait and see for now.