Autonomous Tractor-Trailers Set to Flood Roads, Potentially Cost Jobs

( – Many drivers are afraid of being sandwiched between semi-trucks on the road. The massive vehicles can squish a car with little effort. Imagine a road filled with autonomous, self-driven tractor-trailers — that’s about to happen.

Aurora Innovation has built an autonomous system from semi-trucks. The self-driving 18-wheelers are equipped with 25 laser, radar, and camera sensors to guide the vehicle on trucking routes. The Pittsburgh-based company will start hauling freight on Texas’ Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas in 2024.

A driverless truck could reduce the time it takes for deliveries to reach their destinations. Without a human at the wheel, there’s no concern about taking breaks. Aurora will begin operating 20 driverless semis in Texas. They will carry freight for Werner, FedEx, Uber Freight, and others.

Within four years, the company and its competitors hope to have thousands of self-driving trucks on the road. Those are thousands of jobs that will no longer be available to human drivers. On the other hand, CBS News reported that there’s currently a trucker shortage of approximately 64,000 drivers, which could be solved by autonomous vehicles.

According to The Washington Post, Aurora compiled data that found at least 24 states, including Florida and Texas, have laws specifically allowing autonomous vehicles to operate on their roads.

Sixteen other states have no regulations related to the vehicles at all, meaning they can operate there until lawmakers say otherwise. And in the remaining 10 states, including New York and California, there are limits on self-driving vehicles.

Opponents are also concerned about the lack of federal regulations for self-driving tractor-trailers. If the technology fails, a major crash could cost people their lives. However, there could also be a solution to that issue.

Tech company Cavnue and the Texas Department of Transportation have partnered to build a super highway for self-driving vehicles. It would be the nation’s first autonomous freight corridor.

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