USDOT Outlines How Carriers Could Fuel and Safety Check Driverless Trucks Without Truckers
Washington D.C. – A recently released United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) report outlines how trucking companies intent on replacing long-haul truckers with driverless trucks can ensure certain driver-related tasks are accomplished.
Earlier this year, the USDOT released 91-page report prepared in conjunction with the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, entitled Driving Automation Systems in Long-Haul Trucking and Bus Transit.
The study put forward a series of findings related to the expected impacts from the adoption of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) within the trucking industry.
According to the USDOT, the impact of automation in trucking will be felt in short-haul and regional operations, but is likely to be initially most disruptive to long-haul driving jobs.
The USDOT asserted that because long-haul driving is “less-complex” than other segments and since long-haul drivers have fewer “non-driving responsibilities” than short-haul drivers, self-driving technology developers are honed in on displacing these drivers first.
Click HERE to READ Transportation Nation Network’s complete breakdown of the report’s findings.
Among the myriad issues the report addresses is how trucking firms seeking to adopt ADS and remove long-haul drivers from the vehicle could still ensure that driver-related tasks such as fueling, performing maintenance and safety checks, and handling customer paperwork are accomplished.
The USDOT outlined these possibilities.
Transfer responsibilities to other firms. The report states that “service stations located on long-haul routes could provide staff to perform vehicle fueling, check load securement, and conduct safety inspections.”
Further, the USDOT asserted “in-transit refueling of vehicles could require establishing a network of fueling stations with the necessary trained staff and equipment, along with contractual relationships to perform the refueling,” but notes that “such networks will take time to build and initially will likely only be present in certain corridors.”
Towing firms could also be contracted to manage disabled vehicle recovery and repair, the report said.
Transfer responsibilities to customers. The USDOT contended “tasks such as loading, coupling, opening doors, etc., which are generally performed at the customer site by the driver, could be performed by the customers, provided they have available staff at loading docks.”
However, the report cautioned that “since not all customers have such staff, not all loading docks could be served by trucks without a worker onboard.”
Perform responsibilities via other employees, remotely. “Tasks such as completing paperwork and communicating with customers could be conducted offsite, if employees have access to information on the status of the vehicle through remote supervision capabilities,” the USDOT asserted.
Deploy additional non-driving automation technologies. According to the report’s findings, it may also soon be possible to automate activities such as door opening, loading, etc.
Of course, these responsibilities will likely create demand for new jobs.
The report refers to these new jobs as “complementary occupations.”
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Photo courtesy IKE Robotics