Soon American highways could be overrun with self-driving trucks

semi-truckTake the initial significance that self-driving trucks might have on the road: Based on the most recent data (pdf) from the Department of Transportation, there were an estimated 10.7 million trucks operating in the US in 2013, many of which belong to the more than 33,000 commercial fleets on American highways. While enticing individual owners of private vehicles to put self-driving cars in their driveways could take decades and only change one car at a time, truck fleet owners could replace potentially dozens of vehicles in a single stroke, particularly considering the potential of economic incentives and regulatory mandates. Transport experts promise economic benefits in the form of reduced fuel consumption and emissions through more efficient routing and smoother driving, longer routes than people can safely drive, and less space taken from private drivers on the road. Trucks also have to deal with fewer stop-start, frequent turn scenarios, and fewer road obstacles, meaning a possible less daunting learning curve for self-driving systems.

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