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Self-driving trucks -- the wave of the future?

Imagine a fleet of self-driving trucks on the highways. Proponents tout the concept as a way to reduce vehicle emissions while reviving manufacturing here in America and boosting productivity. They also that claim these trucks can reduce fatalities from traffic accidents. However, the jury is still out on that claim.

For commercial trucks to be fully automated, there will have to be many changes to their design. A semi truck is by far a much more complex mechanism than a passenger car, and there are inherent difficulties in their navigating narrow streets and alleys in urban areas.By some predictions, it will be a couple of more decades until the trucks are running on their own, and even then, they will not be untended by humans. The projected scenario is more like a pilot in the cockpit of a plane allowing the plane to fly on autopilot but at the ready to step in should there be an emergency.

Optimists in the industry see promise in self-driving trucks. No more overtired drivers struggling to make that last haul on three hours' sleep, no distractions from texts or CB radios. It all sounds good.

Inevitably, however, there will be malfunctions. How will the industry deal with issues of liability involving self-driving cars? There are concerns about the trucks being hacked by those with nefarious purposes who could do some real damage at the controls of one of those big rigs.

The courts will have to set new precedents in dealing with the litigation that can arise from accidents involving a fleet of self-driving trucks. For now, if you are injured in an accident with a large truck, there is a system in place to handle civil litigation arising from your injuries.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal, "Driverless future ahead for trucking?," Cory Schouten, May 27, 201

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