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Otto Making Self-Driving Trucks a Reality

Posted By Terry D. Jackson, P.C. || 4-Aug-2016

A San Francisco-based company called Otto is currently working on technology that would turn commercial trucks into self-driving freight haulers. The company is made up of former employees of Cruise Automation, Tesla, Apple, and Google, and includes prominent members of Google’s self-driving car and Google Maps teams. So far, the company is entirely self-funded without any external investment.

Instead of building all new trucks, the company’s goal is to create hardware kits that would convert existing trucks into autonomous vehicles using a combination of distance-measuring lasers, radar, and cameras. Otto’s primary focus is on highway driving, and would still allow truck drivers to manually navigate surface streets and perform loading and unloading of cargo.

For as many advantages as Otto believes self-driving trucks could provide, there should be no question that this new technology could result in several unintended consequences – including questions of liability in the event that a self-driving truck is involved in an accident. This technology, while touted as a way to increase the efficiency of the trucking industry, could potentially lull truckers and the motorists who share the road with them into a false sense of security. If the technology fails, the computer systems are “hacked” for whatever reason, human tragedy and death will result – and who would be responsible? Only time will tell whether allowing a computer to navigate an 80,000 pound truck is a good idea, but it does not take a furtive mind to imagine how this idea requires more study before it is rushed to market for tech billionaires interested in their next venture, not the human heartache that may ensue.

There is not yet a timeline available on the product, but in the absence of concrete self-driving vehicle regulations, there isn’t a real rush. The NHTSA, USDOT, and others are still hard at work creating rules governing self-driving vehicles.

Self driving vehicles, “peloton” trucks, platoon driving vehicles are all the rage in trucking circles, but the trucking industry is adamant against the idea of the FMCSA issuing new regulations on these vehicle systems before they are rushed to market.

If you have been involved in a catastrophic truck wreck, collision or accident, contact Terry D. Jackson, P.C. to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney. We can be reached at (877) 963-6287.

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