Why Self-Driving Trucks Are Taking Over The Roads

Self-driving trucks are becoming more and more common. Is this what the future of transportation and trucking has to look forward to?

By Joseph Farago | Published

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With new autopiloted cars on the road, autonomous vehicles are no longer an invention of the future. Over the past couple of years, Tesla and other innovative automotive companies have attempted to perfect autopilot functions and create a self-driving cars. Today, big rigs are also getting a shot at transforming their driving abilities. A few manufacturers are starting to make self-driving trucks to increase cross-country driving efficiency.

A solid reason to start converting rigs into self-driving trucks is the profitability of the trucking industry. Truck businesses make over $700 billion a year in the US and employ almost a million drivers nationwide. This type of transportation is the cornerstone of American industry, and without solid drivers, the economic US standing would be decimated. With long days and nights driving from state to state, automating trucks would alleviate the brutal nature of truck transportation and create new jobs as well.

The dream of self-driving trucks began in 2017 with a company called Otto. Otto was most known for getting absorbed by Uber when the ride-share service wanted to focus on autonomous driving. Uber quickly disbanded the acquisition once it became too challenging to make autopiloted vehicles consistently safe, but Otto is still advancing its brand regardless. The company’s recent focus is on self-driving rigs, and it was the first automotive manufacturer to produce a successful one. Five years ago, Otto made a big rig that embarked on a 132-mile journey across Colorado. The truck successfully made it from point a to point b without anyone steering the vehicle. Otto’s invention opened the door for more truck companies to invest in autopiloted rigs.

A few other companies were galvanized by Otto’s groundbreaking self-driving trucks. Aurora, another company, affiliated with Uber, is almost ready to release its autonomous fleet of big rigs with a service called the Aurora Horizon. The Aurora Horizon is a subscription package with innovative technology to self-drive one of the company’s vehicles. The subscription has three services at varying prices: Aurora Driver, Aurora Beacon, and Aurora Shield. Each selection has a varied level of automation and integration, perfect to fit any autopiloting needs. Commercialization for these products will begin in 2023, starting in Texas before expanding nationwide.

Embark is another company working on the software installed in trucks for self-driving capabilities. Due to the company’s impressive innovation, Embark has already partnered with Volvo, International, Freightliner, and Peterbilt. Already, Embark trucks promise 40% time savings and 300% growth revenue per vehicle, attracting many notable car brands to this manufacturer. The rig company is working on software that will not only perfect self-driving trucks but also create a system of roads nationwide that are safe and efficient for autonomous vehicles.

For many, self-driving trucks is an invention from a sci-fi fantasy. But, automotive companies are attempting to make this fantasy a reality by investing money, time, and labor into this engineering. Since Otto’s successful autonomous drive in 2017, companies nationwide have been inspired to manufacture legitimate self-driving rigs. Most car brands will likely have subscription services and available autopilot technology for trucks between 2023 and 2024.