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Transportation United States AI Robotics

Self-Driving Trucks Begin Real-World Tests on Ohio's Highways (cbsnews.com) 178

An anonymous reader writes: "A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio..." reports the Associated Press. The truck "will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said Friday, adding that 'safety is obviously No. 1.'"

Ohio sees this route as "a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year" -- although next week the truck will also start driving on the Ohio Turnpike.

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Self-Driving Trucks Begin Real-World Tests on Ohio's Highways

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The system we already have where vehicles travel only on a very constrained path and little other traffic is allowed.
    All traffic is under the control of a central authority too.

    -- Trains --

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @06:03PM (#53373201)
    Since the self driving tech for trucks is at least an order of magnitude or two simpler for fair weather freeway driving than real city driving it's likely it will be implemented there first. You could probably cut the workforce in half or even more by employing drivers only at depots located next to freeways to ferry them the last mile or two within the city. Even between cities in bad weather but that will likely will become automated soon enough. It could potentially eliminate 1.5 to even 2.5 million jobs within 5 years if done this way. Probably will bankrupt every truck stop along major freeways costing another 200k jobs.

    On the bright side thus should employ a few tens of thousands to perhaps even 50k skilled H1-B workers. If anyone can think of how these people will find employment I'd be interested to know as I can't seem to think of how it is gonna happen.
    • Since the self driving tech for trucks is at least an order of magnitude or two simpler for fair weather freeway driving than real city driving it's likely it will be implemented there first. You could probably cut the workforce in half or even more by employing drivers only at depots located next to freeways to ferry them the last mile or two within the city.

      The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon, but they will slip these features into trucks to reduce driver fatigue. The driver is there to watch the truck, and the truck will also watch the driver and wake them up if they're passing out — but also not let them cream anyone. When the trucks can manage a good safety record with babysitters, then they'll be allowed to run around on their own.

      • Since the self driving tech for trucks is at least an order of magnitude or two simpler for fair weather freeway driving than real city driving it's likely it will be implemented there first. You could probably cut the workforce in half or even more by employing drivers only at depots located next to freeways to ferry them the last mile or two within the city.

        The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon, but they will slip these features into trucks to reduce driver fatigue. The driver is there to watch the truck, and the truck will also watch the driver and wake them up if they're passing out — but also not let them cream anyone. When the trucks can manage a good safety record with babysitters, then they'll be allowed to run around on their own.

        You may be thinking too sanely. If the incoming administration is as hell bent on bottom lines and profit as any good CEO is this will be a reality in 4 years.

        • You may be thinking too sanely. If the incoming administration is as hell bent on bottom lines and profit as any good CEO is this will be a reality in 4 years.

          The company closest to having a practical self-driving big rig is probably Mercedes, which we know here as Freightliner. His Trumpness has not exactly been overflowing with love for the auto industry in general, either. None of them are really ready to have a class V OTR truck at this time, anyway. They're only ready to do more development in the real world.

        • The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon

          Haven't you heard? There's a new sheriff in town and his badge has a six-pointed star. Except he doesn't wear the badge, you do. Because you're a truck driver and your days are numbered.

          We just don't need you any more. Sorry, not sorry. You can look for a job in the service sector, but only if you happen to look like a Slovenian hooker.

        • If the incoming administration is as hell bent on bottom lines and profit as any good CEO is this will be a reality in 4 years.

          It's not like we elected Clinton after all. We managed to elect someone substantially less Ferengi.

          The truckers are the kind of people who voted for Trump so he would be less inclined to hasty adoption of tech to replace truck drivers.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        The driver is there to watch the truck, and the truck will also watch the driver and wake them up if they're passing out

        Don't forget the dog. You'll always need the dog in these automated systems.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon, but they will slip these features into trucks to reduce driver fatigue. The driver is there to watch the truck, and the truck will also watch the driver and wake them up if they're passing out â" but also not let them cream anyone. When the trucks can manage a good safety record with babysitters, then they'll be allowed to run around on their own.

        Have you ever tried to be a driving instructor? You are far more stressed than if you're driving yourself, because you never know when the pupil doesn't react or does something unexpected. If they don't trust it, they're going to turn it off. If they do trust it, the truck will drive itself. Sure they might help if it gets stuck, but sitting there ready to intervene at any moment? No way. So I'm thinking the safety record with babysitters is going to be the same as the safety record without babysitters, it

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon,

        I give it a couple of years, tops. Once the data are in showing a significantly lower accident rate than human drivers, those rules requiring a human on board will look like the rule about all cars having to be preceded by a man on foot carrying a red flag.

        -jcr

        • by HuguesT ( 84078 )

          Too optimistic. The accident rate for trucks is very low, about 0.15 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled (source: here [dot.gov]). We will need a lot of trucks and a lot of time on that 35 mile stretch. Quick calculations, at 1000 trucks per day, 24/7, this will take 100 years.

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @02:21AM (#53375305) Homepage Journal

            You completely misunderstand how things actually work. A few kids out of 350 million people get shot by some crazy idiot who should never have been on the streets, "we need new gun laws"; one child gets run over, "we need to replace drivers"; a few aircraft are found to have vulnerable cockpits, and no one can ever get on a plane again without ridiculous, expensive security theater (as opposed to actually solving the problem by hardening the cockpits, a one-time cost that doesn't screw your liberties over.) Etc.

            Laws aren't a product of sane, reasonable thinking due to science and statistics. Laws are all about pandering, and pandering depends on getting the mommies to feel protective. All it takes is a corporate agenda -- some profit-making scheme -- to push the legislators where they need to go.

            Basically, for love of money and re-election, congress creates panics to push a particular corporate agenda; that works, and the corporations get their way, the congresscritters get re-elected, and all is well with the world. From their lofty perspective, anyway.

            • by haruchai ( 17472 )

              " A few kids out of 350 million people get shot by some crazy idiot who should never have been on the streets, "we need new gun laws""

              What new gun laws were passed because of the Sandy Hook slaughter?

              • by judoguy ( 534886 )

                " A few kids out of 350 million people get shot by some crazy idiot who should never have been on the streets, "we need new gun laws""

                What new gun laws were passed because of the Sandy Hook slaughter?

                Try reading the post. He didn't say laws got passed, he said that lot of people, including the POTUS, wept and begged for massive new "gun control" laws.

                Because something bad but really rare happened, we have to screw everyone else over. The parent made a crystal clear analysis of the hysteria that seems to always follow very rare events.

          • by jcr ( 53032 )

            First of all, fatalities aren't the only accidents. Secondly, you don't have to drive them a hundred million miles to get a statistically significant sample. Thirdly, it's not just trucking companies, but their insurance carriers and all of their customers who will want to see this legislation.

            -jcr

      • ...but also not let them cream anyone

        The lot lizards'll have a thing or two to say about that...

      • The government isn't going to let fully automated trucks run around with nobody to watch them any time soon

        Not true. The DoT is already drafting new regulations to cover driverless vehicles. They will require significant testing and evaluation, but the self-driving systems will quickly prove themselves safer than human drivers and will be approved quickly. Especially for highway-only driving.

    • I agree that the tech isn't yet ready for cities, but the same reason it isn't ready for cities is a reason to worry about its implementation on highways.

      Why is the tech not ready for cities? Because city driving has too much unpredictable stuff going on -- unpredictable lane changes, pedestrians, cyclists, construction zones, delivery trucks double-parked, the random guy holding up a hand while a city vehicle maneuvers around, etc. Highway driving is 97% boring "stay in your lane, keep relatively const

    • by wasted ( 94866 )

      Probably will bankrupt every truck stop along major freeways costing another 200k jobs.

      The trucks will still need to be fueled for the long trips, so fueling stops will still be needed, but the food, showers, and restaurants won't be needed as much.

      Of course, depending upon technology level, a driver may be needed for the highway exit-fuel-onramp legs until the technology level is ready for the trucks to find fuel stops and refuel successfully.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How long before there are in-trip refueling trucks? After all, there's no need to delay your valuable cargo if there's no driver.

        The automated refueler will just pull in front, stick a pipe out the back end, and pump a load of fuel (which will initially still be diesel, but will eventually be an electric charge dumped from a supercapacitor bank into the rolling truck. Humans have a hard time managing the precise speeds needed, self-driving trucks will not.

        The tech is going to be level 5 very, very quickly

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @08:06PM (#53373781)

      You're going to find this technology used for platooning long before it is used for unattended driving.
      There were already platooning tests in Europe earlier this year where trucks drove autonomously from all over in Europe and met in Spain without a single hitch. Expect to see this soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2016 @06:04PM (#53373205)

    In 2014 there were 1.8 million truck drivers. [bls.gov] Average pay was $40K. [bls.gov] That's damn good money for a job that doesn't even require a high school education.

    Those people are fuuuuuucked. More fucked than any other industry. More fucked than buggy-whip makers. More fucked than coal miners. In 1980 there were only 230,000 coal miners. Over the last 30 years that's dropped by about 150,000 jobs. But once the they get a working retrofit kit for trucks that are already on the road, the trucking industry is going to shed 90% of their drivers in less than decade.

    And all the ancillary businesses that depend on truckers, like truckstop restaurants and convenience stores, even hookers, they are are fucked too.

    These guys are going to react very poorly to this inevitable future. If Trump's election scared you, get ready from somebody 10x worse when this plays out.

    • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @06:06PM (#53373229)

      "even hookers, they are are fucked too." Surely not.

    • There are around 3.5 million truck drivers employed, not just the 1.8 in big rigs. They are all likely going to lose their jobs and very few of them will have other job experience or training to fall back on.
      • But they won't lose all their jobs at once. First commercially available self driving trucks will appear no earlier than 2020. They'll probably only be certified for highway driving when the weather is fine. They will be expensive and they'll be used by a few companies in pilot projects. They won't replace the driver but extend the hours while the vehicle is moving - the ex-driver can sleep while the truck is driving itself on the interstate.

        Slowly they become popular across big rigs but for a long time the

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe they can get jobs as grief counselors for Hillary voters. It's a growth industry without limit!

    • There's still a long way to go. There are myriad tasks truckers take care of besides driving the truck. Small repairs, paperwork at both ends, balancing and certifying weight, changing the route when necessary, refueling, loading and unloading, security, and not least important, monitoring trucks on the road for problems. If an automated long-haul truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere that's going to be an expensive fix.

      I'm predicting no more than an initial 30% loss once the driving is fully automate
      • by Anonymous Coward

        > There are myriad tasks truckers take care of besides driving the truck

        I expect we will see caravans. Where there are 10+ trucks in a row, the first truck will have a human to handle all the misc duties and to take over the driving when conditions deviate from the norm. All the other trucks will just "lock on" to the truck in front of them much like cruise-control in luxury cars already does today.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Average pay was $40K. That's damn good money for a job that doesn't even require a high school education.

      Good money for a delivery van in the city. Not so good if you are working long-haul - long hours away from home & family.
      In a wealthy country like the US, $40k ought to be the minimum full-time wage, in a job where you need reliable safety-conscious people.

      And why should "stupid" people be treated as an underclass and paid badly? Might as well start paying people according to their height or skin colour.

    • There's always going to be a requirement for someone to hold down the Driver Safety Device [wikipedia.org]

    • More fucked than buggy-whip makers.

      - hold on, a large number of the truckers are owner-operators, you are talking about people who are themselves drivers and they own (lease/finance/own) their vehicle and they find their jobs on job boards and such. So what you saying is that the drivers are fucked because they will install devices into their trucks that will drive the trucks for them. These are now people who will be able to drive 24/7 as opposed to being kept from driving by their logbooks (when they are supposed to take their breaks).

    • Uh, many of those truck drivers have to mortgage their own truck on that and they are away from their families 90% of their life. That's why the pay.
    • Well uneducated whites voted hard for Trump, so I think this is a good payback for them.
    • Pfff. Until they make an autonomous vehicle that can answer a Trolley Problem, drivers aren't going anywhere.

  • Obviously not a union member.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I, for one, welcome our new self-driving truck overlords.

    • I, for one, welcome our new self-driving truck overlords.

      Does this remind anyone else of that old Stephen King short story Trucks [wikipedia.org]?

      Better get your gas-pumpin'-hand warmed up...

      • The movie "Trucks" - the BAD version of "Maximum Overdrive".

        Can't believe they made this story into a movie, much less TWO movies.

        • The movie "Trucks" - the BAD version of "Maximum Overdrive".

          Can't believe they made this story into a movie, much less TWO movies.

          FYI, Books != Movies (except maybe for Harry Potter, which probably explains why I couldn't stand the books)

          I did mean the short story, because I have not watched either movie. Its a classic King short story: spine-shivering, imagination-firing and not necessarily ending well for the protagonists.

          Reading is fun! You should try it some day! ;-D

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @08:17PM (#53373829)
    It is funny how Trump pied-piper blue-collars about bringing jobs back, when he and his coven are for eliminating the minimum wage, privatizing Social Security, raising the retirement age to 70 or higher...



    ... and replacing truckers with bots they don't have to pay.
    • Re:"MAGA" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ghoul ( 157158 ) on Sunday November 27, 2016 @08:42PM (#53373951)

      He said he will get back jobs. Not that they would be middle class jobs. If the minimum wage in the US is made less than the minimum wage in China and unions are banned , companies will bring back factories. People who work these jobs will just have to get used to living 4 bunkbeds to a room and 6.5 day weeks to be able to afford food. The sick will just have to die as these jobs will not have medical coverage. Also the boss will not give time off to go vote so these workers will not vote out Trump next time around.

  • Are they prepared to be invaded by no-name autonomous Linux laptops, making their own way from cab to cab in the self-driving truck standby row, interfacing with trucks who are away from the watchful gaze of their corporate mainframes? Self-driving trucks going rogue and snarfing up flash drives full of ones and zeroes smuggled in from Mexico?

  • Especially taxis, they should be remotely monitored. I am pretty sure they will need that unless they are cool with people puking or worse in the cab. I mean one person should be able to monitor 3 or 4 vehicles at the same time. Since this may incur a high cellular data cost, it can just send stills every 3 seconds uness realtime video conferencing is needed.

    Trucks too should be remotely monitored.

  • This spring in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, Scania platooned their trucks 1600 km across 4 borders

    You people in Ohio, do try to keep up with the rest of us. Don't come back until you can do something that even remotely demonstrates some skill.
  • If you thought botnets of WebCams were bad, wait till you have botnets of hacked self driving vehicles. Sounds like something out of Stephen King!
    And Ransomeware galore.
    The mind boggles at what Organized Crime or Immigration 'Coyotes' can do with a fleet of hacked self driving vehicles.
    Does no one else see this? I feel like Will Smith in 'i Robot', "Now we have Robots building robots. Wonderful!"

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