With A.I. on the rise, it’s no surprise that driverless trucks are the next phase to occur in the ongoing battle for relevancy against robots. Yet, a sobering thought comes to mind when thinking about autonomous vehicles. And that very well has to do with just how much we can trust them. You likely can do so as far as you can throw a calculator: not for long. However, companies with their own corporate agenda pay this no mind as they are betting all their chips on machine to outperform man.
The culprits behind this ridiculous deal? Waymo and Aurora.
The two of them have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in January for the five-year exemption that may very well allow highly automated trucks on the Level 4 and 5 ranking to replace ground-based emergency signaling that would stop motorists short of a truck with cab-mounted electric lights. In addition, there have to be requests that such lights are exempt.
However, the big controversy about all this is how safety advocates aren’t a huge fan of how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet issued performance standards for trucks with automated driving systems (ADS). It’s actually almost reckless, that the FMCSA hasn’t put performance standards, reporting requirements or permits on the ground regarding all of this wiggle-room for failure. In response to the petition, Zach Calahan, the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition (TCS) has been firm on his stance of all this. “Approving this exemption request would be reckless, short-sighted, and short-circuit any deliberate effort by DOT, FMCSA, and NHTSA to act in concert to issue informed rules, regulations, guidance, reporting and performance testing necessary to consider the potential safe deployment of driverless trucks in interstate commerce.” He goes on to say via these public comments, that “the burden is on ADS manufacturers and interested carriers to prove to the public and DOT that this technology can work safely at scale. The paucity of data requires that DOT not unnecessarily risk the lives of the 200+ million roadway users who never agreed to be part of this experiment.”
Waymo and Aurora is championing what everybody wants from the FMCSA.
The benefit of giving bigger companies these exemptions is how more quality employment will be open for the innovators of this responsibility and technology, while also incentivizing more research and development, in order to make for a stronger flow within interstate commerce.
For instance, Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) had partnered with Waymo regarding ADS development to allow for the exemption that could allow consistency with what President Joe Biden has been asking for all along. Less deaths on the roadways. There had been word by the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International for the interest that cab-mounted warning lights would be a step in the right direction for autonomous innovation which would give safety and security for everyone while keeping up with self-driving truck safety. But the safety advocates still think that pushing back on the request for exemption regarding AV technology is the best. Because otherwise? That’s untested technology on untested environments putting public safety at-risk.