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Association Boss: Autonomous Vehicles Won’t Replace Drivers

It will be still be quite awhile before autonomous vehicles become an active part of the trucking industry; and even then, the technology won’t replace truck drivers, says the president of the Ohio Trucking Association during a panel discussion at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual convention.

“I think one of the big issues is the Hollywood glamour of autonomous vehicles compared to the reality we are in,” says Thomas Balzer. “We’re really in the infancy of this thing.”

As reported by Today’s Trucking:

Still, there is no mistaking the advances that have been realized.

“The [building blocks] are derived and developed from safety systems and driver assistance systems that we have. I think it’s important to understand the levels of autonomous systems we already have on the road,” said Kary Schaefer, general manager of marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America.

The legal framework to allow such vehicles on the road is also being prepared in Washington, said Mike Cammisa, vice president of safety and connectivity of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). But even that will take time.

“Were used to the federal government regulating the equipment and right now it’s a little bit early for people to know how to regulate automation,” he said, noting how individual states are concerned about the prospect of fleets of automated trucks.

Schaefer believes the automotive industry will lead the charge as technologies become more advanced. It’s about more than developing vehicles or other transportation-related equipment, she added. It’s part of the race for artificial intelligence.

“How do you emulate decision making through a machine? And that’s what everybody is chasing,” Schaefer said.

Cammisa acknowledged that while autonomous technology advances, many companies recognize drivers as more than just a navigator.

“At ATA, we always talk about the role of drivers may change, but we see drivers still quite involved in the trucking industry for the foreseeable future,” Cammisa said.

“The driver has a lot of different activities that he or she takes care

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