Podcast: Is the Real World Ready for Driverless Trucks? – Security & Compliance


Autonomous technology is tested at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Photo: Screenshot of the VTTI video

According to safety experts, over 90% of motor vehicle accidents involve driver error, and many believe that replacing drivers with automation could significantly reduce the number of accidents. But a safety expert believes that major challenges must be met before driverless motor vehicles are ready and accepted by the public for widespread use.

There are already dozens of driverless trucks operating on interstate highways (with safety drivers), in pilot programs, under testing, and even hauling freight for customers. The technology certainly seems to be working. Does that mean they’re ready for prime time?

Christopher Hart doesn’t think so. He is a past Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and has studied and observed transportation automation for years. It is always uncomfortable to share the road with driverless vehicles.


In a recent blog post for the National Academies of Science, Hart brought his knowledge of aviation automation to the question. HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park spoke with Hart for the HDT Talks Trucking podcast, “Is the Real World Ready for Driverless Trucks?” “

It’s not that Hart is an opponent of automation. In fact, he calls himself a “gadget geek”.

“In the United States alone, we lose over 100 people every day on the highways,” he says. “And I think automation could drastically reduce that number… But the caution is not to do that until we’re really good to go.”

What will an autonomous car do, for example, when it encounters a double-parked delivery truck, he asks. Will he break the law and cross the yellow line to get around the truck? Or what about a construction zone with a worker signaling drivers to stop or slow down depending on the circumstances?

Learn more about Hart’s thoughts on topics such as comparing aviation automation to automotive automation, what the “Miracle on the Hudson” tells us about the challenges of autonomous technologies , artificial intelligence training, public acceptance of driverless vehicles, ethics, the federal role of government, and more. Check out HDT Talks Trucking on your favorite podcast platform or listen below:


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