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We anticipate that “tens of thousands” of completely autonomous tractor-trailers will transport cargo on public roadways in the future. In 2024, preparations are in place to start with 20 driverless trucks in Texas.

According to CBS News, Aurora Innovation Inc., a Pennsylvania-based startup aiming to advance autonomous driving tech, has been successfully testing 18-wheelers on highways ahead of its rivals by conducting controlled tests on them.

The truck can “see” impediments in the road from a quarter of a mile away thanks to 25 laser, radar, and camera sensors. It can then automatically switch to an unencumbered lane without human guidance or intervention.

With human safety drivers on board, Aurora trucks have driven more than a million kilometers autonomously carrying freight on public roads since 2021. Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora, reports that human drivers in other cars have caused only three collisions.

The publication said that Aurora and its rivals “want to place thousands [of] self-driving trucks on America’s public roadways within three or four years.” “The objective is for the trucks to expedite the flow of products, quickening delivery times since they can operate almost nonstop for an extended period of time.”

Despite the fact that the tests have only been conducted on public roads or on simulated roads at slower speeds, Aurora intends to use 20 autonomous trucks by the end of 2024 to deliver cargo on Texas’s Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas.

“Our goal is to have hundreds or tens of thousands of trucks operating on the road,” stated Urmson. “And in order to achieve that, we need to be safe.” There is no other way for the general public to accept it. To be honest, it is the only way our clients will agree.

Although self-driving technology has been available from automakers like Tesla and Waymo in different versions, Aurora is vying with other businesses like Plus.ai, Gatik, and Kodiak Robotics to be the first to provide autonomization to the long-haul trucking sector.

According to CBS, Gatik has stated that it plans to launch in 2024 or 2025, but the other companies have not yet disclosed their schedules.

Even with the advancements in technology, the average American may not be ready to accept an automobile weighing 80,000 pounds traveling at 65 mph on a superhighway.

The majority of American drivers, according to AAA’s most recent study on the topic, either express fear (66%) or some uncertainty (25 percent) about completely autonomous cars.

Safety activists have also noted that there is now “almost no government regulation” governing autonomous cars and trucks, meaning that it is up to the developers to decide if the vehicles are safe enough to drive, according to CBS.

Although he acknowledges that computer systems will eventually make mistakes, Phil Koopman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who specializes in software and autonomous car safety, theorizes that these trucks might be safer.

When billions of dollars in investments are at stake, Koopman questions how businesses will properly decide on safety.

He declared, “Everything I see suggests they are attempting to do the right thing.” However, it’s the details that reveal the true intentions.

Urmson asserts that Aurora is not a company that compromises security for financial gain. It will take the corporation until late 2027 or early 2028 to even start making a profit.

In March, the CEO declared in public, “If we put a car on the road that is not adequately safe—that we are not confident in the safety of — then it kills everything else.”

Additionally, he forecasted that autonomous trucks will support human drivers rather than displace them.

“I expect you to be able to retire from driving a truck if you are driving one today,” Urmson stated.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

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