The trucking industry has gone through some major changes in recent decades.
The green movement has led to the adoption of low-emission engines and other components designed to leave a smaller carbon footprint. Upcoming mandates will also require drivers to log their hours with electronic devices rather than in paper logs.
Ditching paper logbooks and moving away from diesel engines may just be the beginning for the freight industry’s evolution. A new technology has been making waves in the freight industry for years now, and it’s only predicted to become more prevalent.
Autonomous vehicles were once thought to be nothing more than a concept found in science-fiction works. Corporate mergers have already taken place, with self-driving startups being snatched up by companies aiming to grow their technology. Successful test-runs have also taken place, showing a bit about what these vehicles can and will be able to do for the economy.
The trucking industry has been historically torn when it comes to this topic. While some people acknowledge the technology has gotten to the point that it is much safer and more efficient than it once was, others still have concerns. Namely, the concerns arise from fears about machines taking away human jobs.
The American Trucking Association is one of the most prominent organizations in the trucking industry, and they’ve been a vocal proponent of embracing autonomy. Not only are autonomous vehicles viewed as a solution to ease the continued driver shortage, some maintain they could be safer than human-piloted vehicles.
ATA officials have taken the next big step in ushering autonomy into trucking. They’ve just released guidelines regarding autonomous vehicles – a first in the trucking industry.
ATA President and CEO Chris Spear spoke about the guidelines, saying: “Over the past year, ATA has been active in this debate, advocating for recognition of the importance of the trucking industry when it comes to the development of automated vehicles. The adoption of this policy gives a clear direction about what our industry will expect and require as policymakers establish a comprehensive framework for automated vehicles.”
The policies have several points, many of which relate to the legislation that will be created regarding driverless trucks. Trucking officials are largely in favor of federal regulations over state regulations, as the former will help create more uniformity throughout the country. This, in turn, will result in fewer complications for interstate travel.
The guidelines also noted that the industry should be weary of any law that would seek to limit or require different levels of autonomy. As the technology continues to develop, the industry is counting on innovation and entrepreneurship – forces that have helped trucking immensely in the past.
The policies also spoke of the importance of testing and development. Demonstrations of autonomy’s capabilities will be vital to gaining the trust of lawmakers and the motoring public. Infrastructure investments will also play a big role in autonomy’s uprising. The guidelines note that these investments should be viewed as positive for both automated vehicles and conventional vehicles.