Last Month the White House rolled out new guidelines for automated vehicle manufacturers. Automated Vehicles 4.0 (or AV4.0) was shown at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, with the goal of improving safety and security with self-driving vehicles. AV4.0 will impose regulations to ensure manufacturers of automated vehicles do not make false claims about the limitations and capabilities of their products.
AV4.0 and the Trucking Industry
While AV4.0 applies to all automated vehicles, there are points that specifically address the trucking industry. The FMCSA is conducting research to understand how much of a role humans play with self-driving trucks. This is important because the first commercially-usable automated trucks will require a human pilot in the cab. Another area being researched by the FMCSA is the interface between the vehicle and the driver, the responsiveness of sensors and brakes, platooning, and emergency response.
AV4.0 and Potential Job Displacement in the Trucking Industry
One of the overarching concerns in the trucking industry is that AV4.0 will accelerate the use of self-driving trucks, resulting in massive job displacement. Federal departments including Transportation, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Commerce are researching the potential impact of self-driving trucks. Proponents of AV4.0 and automated vehicles point to opportunities for re-skilling existing truckers so they can be pilots and co-pilots in automated trucks. Others state that the switch to automated vehicles will not happen overnight. Carriers will only switch if the technology becomes affordable, and even then, the technology needs to be safe.
Concerns from Truckers and the Public
While people are more inclined to embrace new technology than they were a few years ago, automated trucks present a number of concerns. Truckers and the public at large are apprehensive about large vehicles on the road without a person in control. They claim that automated vehicles still pose too much of a risk to other vehicles and drivers. And, as always, automated trucks could negatively disrupt employment and the economy. One thing is for certain – AV4.0 sets a new bar and opens the door a little wider to self-driving trucks becoming a reality in the near future.