On Aug. 10, 2018, a semitruck drove between Tucson and Phoenix without any human intervention. That truck will grow into a fleet of 50 vehicles by June.
These long-haul semis, operated and programmed by technology company TuSimple, still have humans onboard in case of an emergency. But that may not be the case for long. The company’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to the market, and they may completely remove humans from the driving process by as early as next year.
Larry Head, interim dean of the UA College of Engineering, serves on the Arizona Governor’s Task Force for Self-Driving Vehicles and has over 25 years of systems engineering experience related to automated vehicle systems. He said that while the technology is not perfect, and it will be a while before it is perfected, there are already many benefits to the automated systems.
“These trucks can drive on the highway for 26 hours, whereas a human can only drive for eight before being required to take a break,” Head said. “Autonomous technology has the possibility to be much safer and more efficient.”