Autonomous Trucks - What Do They Really Mean
It seems we cannot pick-up a trade publication, magazine, or newspaper today, and not read something related to the world of autonomous vehicles. The perspectives on their potential applications are varied, and change frequently. One recent Transport Topics article predicted autonomous technology will be more readily applied to long haul applications, thus actually increasing demand for local and regional drivers, and result in more desirable truck driving jobs. When you consider American Trucking Associations estimates that the trucking industry will need to hire about 900,000 new drivers over the next decade just to replace retirees and handle expected freight growth, professional driving remains a secure career choice, regardless of where autonomy may ultimately evolve.
No question, technological advances are creating new capabilities for both passenger cars and trucks. These developments are being incorporated into vehicle operating systems, providing the drivers with potential benefits. Attainment of Level 5 autonomy however, which is a fully autonomous vehicle without the need for a driver to be present, is far from a reality today, or anytime soon. Two major issues are, can technology be developed that will ensure safe vehicle operation in all potential conditions and situations, and would that be accepted in our society.
There is a saying, it is not the destination that is most important, but rather the journey. This holds a lot of truth for the development of driving technology. While it seems very unlikely that technology will replace drivers in any of our lifetimes, these development efforts are yielding new capabilities that provide incremental safety improvements. Today Black Horse Carriers spec’s all new trucks with collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure and blind spot warning systems, to name a few. In the near future we will see improvements in lane keeping assist systems, fatigue alert for the driver, and integration of the various safety modules into a single OEM provided unit for the vehicle. Future generations of these technologies will also continue to improve.
How the industry will best utilize these evolving technologies remains to be seen, but our focus remains very clear. We are committed to safety as the first priority in all our operations, and we embrace technologies that promote safer operations. We are committed to hiring and retaining the best drivers in the industry, providing modern, well maintained equipment that is safe and comfortable, to ensure the success of our professional drivers. We are committed to safely providing our customers exceptional service to help ensure our collective security. It is each of us that we ultimately rely on to work and drive safely every day. While technology can help us improve, it doesn’t change our ultimate commitment to safety and service.
Thank you for your service and commitment to Black Horse Carriers.
President and CEO