Skip to comments.Driverless Cars Legally Hit Roads as California Issues Licenses; Truckers to be Unemployed
Posted on 05/26/2014 3:15:22 PM PDT by Kaslin
In August of 2013 I wrote Message to 5.7 Million Truck Drivers "No Drivers Needed" Your Job is About to Vanish.
The key word in that sentence is "about". I did not mean immediately, but I did mean a lot sooner than truck drivers and the general public expect. Most protested. I received many emails saying this would not happen for decades.
Many truck drivers thought it would never happen. Most mentioned insurance issues. Yes, there are problems, but time has marched on even quicker than I thought.
TechCrunch reports California Will Start Granting Licenses For Driverless Cars In September.
Come September, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will begin granting licenses to select driverless cars and their human co-pilots, which will make it a bit less legally iffy as to whether or not theyre actually allowed to be on a public road.
The good news: The license will only cost $150 a pop, and that covers 10 vehicles and up to 20 test drivers.
The bad (but probably actually good) news: You probably cant get one, so dont go trying to make your own Googlecar just yet.
Stiff License Terms
Yes, the terms of the license are stiff including $5,000,000 insurance against personal injury, death, or property damage. And a test driver has to be able to take immediate control of the car at all times.
Nonetheless, the licensing is a big step forward. Totally driverless cars are but a single step away. All that needs to happen is for California to eliminate the requirement that someone has to be in the car at all times to take control.
A big issue is that radar can detect size and shape of objects, but it does not have human judgement regarding danger. For example, a balloon blowing across the road is a much different thing from a hunk of metal the same size sitting in the road.
Such difficulties will be overcome.
Incentives and Implications
The implications on the shipping business are staggering. A full-time truck driver might cost as much as $100,000 a year. The incentive to get rid of millions of full-time drivers is massive.
A July 2013 Truckers Report headline reads ATA: Self-Driving Trucks Are Close To Inevitable
However, the article itself dismissed the idea totally.
People come up with these grandiose ideas, says Bob Esler, a commercial trucker for almost 50 years. How are you going to get the truck into a dock or fuel it?
And then theres loading and unloading. Pre-trip inspections. Signing for drop-offs and pickups. Making sure cargo is properly secured. Making sure the cargo thats being loaded actually gets loaded. The list just keeps going on and on.
The Last Mile
Many of the objections in the above article have to do with the last mile. Let's assume someone has to load the truck. Let's also assume an actual skilled driver has to dock the truck and make the final delivery (arguably a bad assumption).
Yet, even if those assumptions are true, nothing stops a trucking company from having distribution facilities right off an interstate near major cities, where local drivers deliver the goods the last mile.
Why can't all but the last few miles be driverless even if a skilled driver is needed some step of the way for safety reasons?
Technology marches on at a breathtaking pace. We might actually see commercial driverless vehicles on the roads within a few years.
These cars will be in a lot of accidents probably
now I can really feel safe on the roads...
It would scare the you know what out of me to be traveling in one of those things without a driver. No way I could ever just trust a computer.
I predict semi-trucks will be one of the last things automated on the road. Just gotta watch one back up, it’s a lot more art form than science, people are better at art than computers. Stuff that doesn’t require feel and instinct will be quick. I can’t wait to go to concerts in Phoenix and start sleeping as soon as I get in the car.
The micro-second that they cross into Arizona there had better be a human driver behind the wheel.
Probably a lot fewer than people. Computers don’t get distracted, don’t have blind spots, don’t drive drunk or tired, don’t get angry at the other drivers being dumb.
California already has brainless voters; why not driverless cars?
Get over it. Truck drivers are just buggy whips.
Driverless trucks...I think they’re called trains.
They have drivers. That pretty much only seem to screw things up lately.
...and computers never crash.
Wait, let’s rethink that.
Embedded systems that don’t have users screwing with them don’t crash.
Wrong analogy. Driverless cars have brains, just not human ones. But your point is valid.
Docking, fueling a vehicle and many other last 100 feet obstacles are no longer Impediments.
Google can get the last 100 feet technology from Amazon and the truck will use the GPS of and supplied on and around a given property.
No need for a human.
In fact, customers can be given an inducement of lower transportation costs if they will allow the delivery co.pany6to install a system and that will mean more work in the structured cable businesses and increase bandwidth requirements for many companies.
Cha ching! Your job didn’t just get outsourced, truck drivers will become buggy whip manufacturers.
Goose better think about a different industry. Maverick sure ain’t gonna go there.
Would kill car insurance.
Would cost police as ticket givers a bundle of work and money.
Not necessarily as they are run by computers. However the computers are programmed by humans which are known to make mistakes
Driverless trains would make a lot more sense.
Increase of dog death rate to ensue?.