While many Pennsylvania motorists have likely read about the self-driving cars that Google and other companies are developing and testing, they may not know that some companies have now turned their attention to developing technology to make commercial trucks self-driving as well. Some of the automated trucks are already being tested in several states.
One company, Otto, is located in California. Many of its members are veterans of the Google self-driving undertaking. Since the company’s founding, it has already developed modifications that use existing trucks and turn them into fully automated ones. The company uses steering hardware, cameras and sensors that are mounted on the truck and software customized for the task.
The company has modified three Volvo commercial trucks thus far. It believes that the trucks will ultimately be safer because they will be free of human error. The company’s owners envision truck drivers being present more as navigators and supervisors instead of as drivers. While human drivers are limited by federal regulations as to the number of hours they can be on the road, self-driving trucks could operate around the clock, making companies more profitable and cutting down on delivery times.
The question remains about who would hold liability in the event one of the automated trucks was involved in an accident. No technology is completely foolproof, and it is possible that a truck could suffer a software failure or glitch that results in a catastrophic collision and serious injuries to others who are on the road. When that occurs in the future, victims will likely want to have legal assistance in seeking compensation from the responsible party or parties.