A new era has begun in the trucking sector; an era when the service of truck driver will not be needed anymore, this is because self- driving trucks otherwise known as driverless or autonomous trucks have started delivering goods in America.
It was gathered that the driverless trucks, which was manufactured by a company called Embark has started traveling as far as 650 miles to deliver goods in California.
“If you live in Southern California and you’ve ordered one of those new refrigerators in the past few weeks, it may have hitched a ride to you on a robotruck”, the wired reported.
The Wired, A new York based medium claimed that Since early October,2018, autonomous trucks built and operated by the startup Embark have been hauling Frigidaire refrigerators 650 miles along the I-10 freeway, from a warehouse in El Paso, Texas, to a distribution center in Palm Springs, California.
It is however, gathered that a human driver rides in the cab to monitor the computer chauffeur for now, but the ultimate goal of the (auto) pilot program is to dump the fleshbag and let the trucks rumble solo down the highway.
“This is the first time someone has demonstrated this end-to-end,” Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues says. “It showcases the way that we see self diving playing into the logistics industry.”
They’ve got some good arguments. First off, making a robot that can drive itself on the highway, where trucks spend nearly all their time, is relatively easy. You don’t have to account for pedestrians, cyclists, traffic lights, or other variables. The big rig just has to stay in its lane and keep a safe distance from fellow travelers.
Trucks carry 70 percent of goods shipped around the US, but truckers are scarce. According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry is now short 50,000 drivers. As current drivers retire or quit, that number could hit 175,000 by 2024. Cut down the need for the human, and that shortage stops being a problem. And a self-driving truck isn’t subject to rules that ban humans from spending more than 11 hours at a time behind the wheel.
For now, the Embark milk runs are designed to test logistics as well as the safety of the technology. On each trip, a human driver working for Ryder (a major trucking company and Embark’s partner on this venture) heads over to the Frigidaire lot in El Paso, picks up a load of refrigerators, hauls them to the rest stop right off the highway, and unhitches the trailer. Then, a driver working for Embark hooks that trailer up to the robotruck, cruises onto the interstate, pops it into autonomous mode, and lets it do its thing. The truck mostly sticks to the right lane and always follows the speed limit. Once in Palm Springs, the human pulls off the highway, unhitches the trailer, and passes the load to another Ryder driver, who takes it the last few miles to Frigidaire’s SoCal distribution center.
Today, the human doing the highway stretch is there to keep an eye on things. In a few years, Embark hopes to ditch the carbon-based nanny. At that point, the humans doing the work at either end of the trip would be like the bar pilots who guide massive container ships into and out of port. And it should be a lot easier to find drivers if they don’t have to spend days or weeks at a time away from home, instead focusing on local deliveries.