Automated vehicles are seen as the future of motoring. The technology raises the prospect of the number of car accidents being cut dramatically in the future. Some companies are even working on automated trucks.
Recently, the publication Construction Equipment detailed how Volvo is developing automated trucks for off-road operations.
Although much of the debate about automated trucks has concentrated on the idea of “platooning” of two or more tractor-trailers carrying freight, the report noted automation is already underway in mining and other off-road activities.
Automation will likely play a more prominent role in Volvo’s on/off-road construction trucks in the next few years, Volvo Truck executives revealed at a truck show in Atlanta.
Keith Brandis, Volvo’s director of product planning, explained automation is one of three major areas of development that the company is considering.
The others are “electromobility,” or electric powertrains and connectivity through telematics.
Brandis said automation is easier in “closed areas” where trucks are unlikely to come into contact with other trucks and cars. Self-guided haul trucks can run in mines in Australia and Europe. Identical principles can be used at job sites and in repetitious routes in the U.S.
Brandis said Volvo dump trucks are programmed to seek out a wheel loader or excavator on a construction site and automatically drive there, then back into position.
Both of the trucks would use the same telematics connections. Geofencing technology would be used to confine a truck to the site for the automated portion of a trip. The driver could take the wheel when the truck returns to public roads.
Recently the Los Angeles Times reported automated trucks could be on the highways of America within a decade.
Trucking jobs could be threatened by the development. At threat could be the jobs of as many as 1.7 million truckers, the article warned.
However, the prospect of giant trucks on the road with nobody at the wheel remains a frightening one and there are unresolved liability issues.
It’s also a move that may be fought hard by the trucking industry.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a tractor-trailer crash, call our Georgia trucking accident injury lawyer at (404) 913-1529.