With companies like Uber, Google, and Tesla competing to produce self-driving cars, it is no surprise that autonomous trucks are now being tested. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently held a demonstration of an autonomous truck in one of their work safety zones. The truck, valued at $350,000, was manufactured by Royal Trucking, which is based in the Lehigh Valley.
The company’s spokesperson explained that the autonomous truck follows behind a lead truck and copies its actions. He stated that it increases lane accuracy and absorbs crashes more safely, and that they are useful for construction zones, cutting grass at medians, painting road lines, and plowing snow.
Are They Legal?
These trucks are not yet legal, although legislation is in the works. Pennsylvania state legislation for autonomous trucks is pending with House Bill 1958, which would allow autonomous trucks on the road and has implications for future use. It would permit autonomous cars on roads and allow platooning, which are several autonomous vehicles traveling at high speeds in close formations. He stated that it would lead to safer roads, and less pollution and congestion. Proponents feel that these trucks protect workers when vehicles crash into their work zones.
The Vice President of Gannett Fleming, a company with construction management and alternative delivery interests, stated that the technology is still being worked on, and once the bill is passed, the industry can move forward.
These trucks have a lot going for them, especially cost savings to businesses. The initial price, as mentioned, is high but it could pay off in time by completing work faster and reducing labor costs. Trucks will also be programmed to drive the shortest routes, which may lessen traffic congestion. Most importantly, if they remove the risk of human error, they could reduce traffic accidents. This would depend on extenuating circumstances like bad weather and unsafe roads.
The cost-saving aspect of these trucks could be detrimental for truck drivers, since they could theoretically be replaced by them. Although new positions would be created, older drivers could lose their jobs to driverless trucks. Since this is a new technology, it could be many years before they are used on a large scale in this country. Every state has different regulations regarding autonomous vehicles, especially as technology is still being developed.
Safety concerns have also been discussed. These trucks operate on software, which can be corrupted or hacked by criminals. It is possible that the controls could be overridden, leading to unforeseen and dangerous circumstances.
West Chester Truck Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Fight for Injured Victims of Trucking Accidents
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a West Chester truck accident lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. We will fight for your rights and offer expert guidance. Contact us today at 610-565-3701 or fill out one our online forms. With office locations in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.