Insider Says Tesla Semi Is Good For Whole Trucking Industry

Tesla Semi at Ruan in Iowa (source: Ruan)


Autonomous semi trucks could revolutionize trucking.

Tesla is expected to begin deliveries in 2020 for the Tesla Semi and many in the trucking industry are getting excited about the possibilities. One of those eagerly anticipating the product launch is Sean Chenault of Quality Carrier in Nashville, Tennessee.

The electric drive is certainly intriguing to Chenault, but the potential for complete vehicle autonomy has his attention. “Having autonomous vehicles, you don’t need to pay a driver,” says Chenault “and you don’t need to worry about hours of service.” Hours Of Service rules limit drivers to 11 hours of driving in a 14 hour window. A driver must then be given 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Having autonomous driving means trucks can be placed in service more hours of the day. Dena Wolpert, a truck owner since 2002, says many drivers must disrupt their sleeping patterns in order to comply with Hours of Service rules.

Finding drivers to take on the job of long haul trucking is becoming more difficult. “We are struggling to find drivers now,” says John Wilbur, CEO of Roadmaster Group “If autonomous drivers are means to eliminate that deficit, it’s a good thing.”

Of course, not everyone is so open to the burgeoning technology. Michael Nichols, a truck owner in Wisconsin, is concerned about autonomous vehicle safety. “If the truck is not reliable enough, there will be crashes.”

So far the vast majority of accidents involving autonomous vehicles have not been the fault of the autonomous car.

To be clear, full autonomy has not yet been demonstrated on any Tesla vehicle. However, other players have made significant progress. Tesla employees are also quietly testing full self driving features. So it is only a matter of time before the California automaker begins to roll out their fully autonomous features.

Source: Insider


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185 Comments on "Insider Says Tesla Semi Is Good For Whole Trucking Industry"

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It’s ‘good for the industry’ because it will put thousands of drivers out of work? Come on.

Yeah, I wish the article would’ve mentioned that the big upside being touted here isn’t an upside for all.

It will surely put many bad drivers, the tailgaters, out of jobs.
They’ve only retained their jobs because of the driver shortage.

That won’t happen, either. They’ll put themselves out of a job if their driving is bad enough.

Might be a good time to get into the wrecker and recovery business, or even a scrap yard.

With fewer wrecks? That would be dumb, but go ahead.

I’m sure they said the same thing about the loom, cotton gin, printing press, assembly line, etc… You can’t shame away technological progress.

You forgot buggy whips.

I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen – it should. You can’t slow down the future, it keeps coming. But it’s not going to be a win for everyone, it’s going to be a win for the people on top. It’s ok to think about and be concerned for the impact it’s going to have on those who aren’t so fortunate.

I agree, it’s going to happen and stopping it isn’t possible. The wealth and wage gap is a real problem brought on all forms of this automation revolution that we’re in the midst of. We need to deal with the gap and get serious about education in this country.

Because someone makes more than you do……is it less?

Oh, you can definitely slow down the future. Have you not heard of the dark ages?

My cousin is a trucker who supports a household of 5. Are you going to pay his bills when he’s out of work? We must provide replacement jobs when this new tech hits, at least for the older truckers.

The full autonomy will not happen in your lifetime.. maybe some day.. but that is too far off.. instead you cousin will be driving a truck that is much safer than the current truck. The accidents from truckers falling asleep not paying attention will decrease dramatically. As far as the truck being electric.. it will cost 1/10 compared to diesel… and your cousin will be able to merge into hwy traffic at the same speed as a regular car.

Maybe your cousin shouldn’t of had three kids.

Maybe you should have learned the difference between “of” and “have” before you displayed your dazzling wit.

Historically many of the TRUE innovations actually put MORE people to work.

Printing Press generated more printers than scribes since it greatly increased demand for books.

Ottmar Mergenthaler’s LINOTYPE automatic typesetting machine (read the Wikipedia account on LINOTYPE MACHINE), partially written by yours truly, needed more operators and repairmen than the typesetters formerly employed since this exploded the demand for reading material – prior to this invention, no newspaper was over 8 pages in size due to the high cost of composition.

Assembly lines greatly decreased the cost of mass-market goods. From household products to manufactured homes to vehicles, employment greatly increased compared to the numbers of workers in a given business when everything was totally hand-made.

Thanks that is absolutely my point as well!

Back in the 80’s I was applications field service engineer for Asian CNC machine tool builder. We put a whole lot of people out of work via automation. From small shops to Fortune 500 companies, those jobs were just flat eliminated never to return.

Today look at 3D printing, also just flat out eliminating skilled prototype fabricators.

It’s just hard cold reality that a lot of jobs become obsolete. AI in the future will be ever expanding its reach. It’s called progress. No job is safe. It is what it is.

Agreed, it is what it is, but we do have a choice. Destruction of the fabric of society so that a few can get ridiculously wealthy isn’t a recipe for success for the human race. There may be a point at which we might want to think about regulating the expanse of these new technologies for the good of the whole, not the few. These are the public policy challenges for the new generations coming up. All the previous generations have created this mess, now they will have to deal with it.

A problem with one company limiting the progress of technology is that other countries won’t do it as well. Two examples would be looking at the result of such protectionism on the Hindustan car company of India (search for Hindustan Ambassador car), and Turkey’s efforts in the 1990s to protect traditional way of life. I was stationed in Turkey 1991-93. There was a bunch of paperwork required to register my electric typewriter and my Commodore 64 – in an attempt to prevent such technology from disrupting the traditional pen and paper office worker.
Tom Friedman’s “The World is Flat” lays it out.
Unfortunately in my opinion, USA emphasis on Beautiful Pristine Coal is allowing the Chinese and Indians to develop nuclear power electricity generating technology while we cling tightly to the traditional fossil fuel to avoid causing disruption of this traditional way of life.

Sadly, that is true. It’s true that in the past, a limited amount of automation has cause economic stimulus that wound up creating more jobs, and well-paying jobs, than there were before. But automated assembly lines have not resulted in the net creation of more blue-collar jobs; they have destroyed good paying manufacturing jobs, and it’s only the lower-paying service industry which has seen much growth since that trend started.

They don’t call certain States in the Midwest the “rust belt” for nothing. All those abandoned factories mean hard times and a lack of employment for many towns, and even some large cities… most notably Detroit.

Historically, we never had learning robots with dexterous hands and bipedal movement that matched our own. Historically we never had a machine that could stand in our place and do what we do. Historically we never had learning AI to solve problems and even be creative.

While all of these new technologies are still in their infancies, it’s clear to anyone paying attention than in the foreseeable future there won’t be many jobs available that a robot couldn’t do. The time to think of these consequences is now, not later after we have done this thing. The atomic bomb comes to mind. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Trust me, death by atomic bomb is going to make a come back. It’s out there and can’t be un-done.

OK, where are the NEW jobs that can’t be replaced by robots and AI? Where does it all end? We are rapidly approaching a point where robots and AI can do ANY job and do it better than us, but the only thing keeping us employed will be that we are still cheaper to run than the machine. At some point that won’t even be true.

Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should.

and you point is? Don’t progress? Let Mercedes or another manufacturer drive the market because of a misguided sense of entitlement?

Semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles are coming whether you have a historically void, false moral objection. Thousands of lives will be saved and, just like with all other technological shifts in the past, the labor force will adjust. The will be disruption for truckers and even more so for Uber/cab/Lyft/etc drivers. The thought process should be how do we transition those people into new jobs, not how do we fight and obstruct progress.

Yup, dumb logic. So block progress to save jobs?
Go back to shoveling coal or shifting hay then.

@koz is so right. I’m always looking out for skills that’ll reduce the chances of my job being outsourced. Nobody is entitled to their jobs.

Nobody is entitled to live either. Anything is possible.

“…certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

When I drive cross country, I see mile-long railroad trains loaded with semi trailers. This seems to be already putting lots of drivers out of work. I’m not sure I really see a big advantage to Tesla’s approach to doing it. Both approaches involve using drivers for the first and last mile. The train uses even less power, mechanical deterioration, and manpower,

Those are mostly cross country loads. Train cannot replace local, regional, just on time deliveries.

With high-speed rail and 21st century routing of freight, the railroads would be able to more than compete with the trucking industry for cross-country “just in time” delivery. The fact that the trucking industry has been able to eat into so much of the cargo formerly carried by rail is a sad symptom of how our (U.S.) railroads have been allowed to languish, without upgrades or 21st century tech improvements.

Fantastic example and point!

Reality check: The railroads have not cut into the freight trucking industry, nor put truckers out of work. In fact, exactly the revers: The freight trucking industry has cut into the amount of cargo formerly carried by trains. Trucking has cut into railroad cargo and revenue to a surprisingly great extent, given now much more efficient it is to move cargo by rail.

I’d love to see the U.S. spend some money and resources updating its railway system to the 21st century, with sophisticated “expert systems” software used to route individual freight cars. And not because that would put truckers out of work, but because it burns far, far less fossil fuel to move cargo by train than by truck.

Greenhouse gas emissions have to be much lower for maintenance on railroads than on freight trucking fleets, too. (For example, think about all those huge rubber tires that the trucking industry goes thru in a year… and the railroads don’t.)

Auto Pilot doesn’t make airplane pilots lose their jobs.

But cockpit automation did, that’s why you no longer have a flight engineer pilot, think 727 three man crews for example, almost all planes today only have two people in the cockpit. Far different from the past.

If you had 727 flight engineer on your resume, that didn’t get you anything except the opportunity to start over at the bottom of the list.

Attrition is easy when you already have a shortage.

It’s going to be a very long time until robots are able to cope with anything but pristine weather, not to mention the last mile of driving and getting in to the yards and loading docks. What works in southern California will only work in Buffalo, NY about half the year. Maybe. Ok Google, watch out for black ice and deer! But it’s telling that companies are really excited about getting rid of people, rather than the lower maintenance and fuel bills. It’s shameful, but we really $hit on the hardest working people, working them to death for next to nothing and punishing them when their bodies wear thin.

There are currently 50,000 trucking jobs open. How is a small fleet of Tesla Semis going to fill all those jobs and cause other truckers to lose theirs?

Because Tesla isnt the only manufacturer making an Autonomous truck.

Many distribution warehouses are right next major highways, and have easy on/off ramps. These are ideal for companies like Walmart, AB, etc. As well as starting anonymous driving. Then human drivers can focus local driving.

Ask yourself if you want your family driving next to an 80,000 pound truck with no driver at 65mph. This is a recipe for disaster.

I agree 100 percent will u Todd a disaster is waiting to happen right all these companies see is how can they saved a buck the lawyers are waiting for these so called driver less trucks to hurt or killed some one

I don’t exactly like my family driving next to a 80,000 lb truck with a driver hopped up on caffeine at 65mph now. Obviously I want vigorous testing first, but yeah, once that’s done I’m going to be more ok with that then the situation that exists now.

You dont want your family next to a truck with a driver, but your ok with them next to a truck with no driver. Wow sounds good

If they are safer then a truck operated by a human driver, then that’s a win in my book.

Note they don’t have to be perfect, just better then a human

Autonomous trucks could run from 10 pm to 4 am when less traffic is on the road.

Considering the number of time I see trucks weaving in and sometimes outside their lane on the highways of both Canada and the USA, yes there are a lot of bad drivers out there who a machine can do a better job of driving.

And if the main reason is a lack of sleep having a self-driving truck on the highways and having human catch some sleep on the way means an alert driver at both ends of the delivery.

There will be a driver. A computer that doesn’t text, lose focus, get tired, acts in milliseconds and can see better. All good news.

I guess you are unable to envision a day in which self-driving trucks will have a lower accident rate than trucks with human drivers.

Fortunately, most of us are not so myopic or lacking in imagination.

I expect Federal and State regulators to be rather slower in approving fully self-driving trucks on the highways than fully self-driving passenger cars, for the very simple and unalterable fact that loaded freight trucks have much greater mass and inertia than passenger cars, and thus much greater potential for causing harm during a traffic accident. But that day will come, sooner or later.

Did you experience GPS fault while driving ?
Did you heard about hackers brakes through most “reliable “ firewalls?
Did you heard that semis flipped when truck’s front tire blows ?
Me is not the one who would enjoy that company on highways

Automation would (and does!) deal with front tire blowouts way, way better than any driver ever could. This has already been proven with modern traction control software.

another load of BS from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about you need to read more go for it then we’ll see what happens Save A Buck kill a human

How about posting some actual facts instead of just throwing out pejoratives?

Based only on the comments here, Mevp’s comment seems much more plausible and convincing than yours.

When has any Tesla used GPS to control driving?

Hackers don’t work is the external network refuses inputs, that is what PROPER firewalls do. Let’s see you break into my laptop run Haiku and none of the Window services, lets see you break into my other laptop that never is connected to internet. Hackers are very limited, it is just too many people are to stupid to properly protect themselves.

Semis rarely flip from blown tires, usually because the driver make mistakes in handling them, remove the mistakes, remove the flips.

You can rarely see into a truck while you are busy driving on a highway, you will likely drive with automated trucks without even knowing it.

Then stay off the highway.

I’m certainly much, much more worried about the very real and widespread problem with human truckers driving with too little sleep, than I am about any hypothetical future problem with what will almost certainly be very rare events where hackers will seize control of a fully automated truck, and use that to create mischief. If hackers do manage to seize control of a truck, it will most likely be because they want to hijack it and steal the cargo, not to hurt people, which would attract much more attention from law enforcement.

What condition is that 75% of all accidents between commercial motor vehicles and four wheelers are the fault of the four-wheelers go ahead and fact-check me you’re going to see a lot more death and destruction once they put these on the road watch once they hit a bus load full of children and Kill Them All then we’ll see

Yet, bus drivers are already killing bus loads without the trucks, sound like we need to automate the buses too.

You’re a truck driver, aren’t you?

Or maybe just another Tesla basher.

The only rational conclusion, if what you’re saying is actually true, is that the need for fully automated trucks even greater than most of us realize.

Fully automated trucks won’t be allowed to operate on public roads until their safety has been proven to be better than human-driven trucks. So, the sooner we get them, the better!

Your assertion seems to be based on fear, rather than rational thought.

The higher safety factor of autonomous vehicles versus manned vehicles is indisputable. It may seem frightening but that’s only because it’s new.

It’s far from indisputable today. The best software, from Waymo and possibly Cruise, is getting close to that level. Many are still testing less capable s/w, sometimes with tragic results.

Yeah, and humans are still behind the wheel, sometimes with tragic results.

Close to what level? The statistics I’ve seen, based on the number of accidents per million miles driven, strongly indicates that Waymo’s cars are already far safer than human-driven cars. And of course improving every year… which you can’t say about human drivers!

Except that those caused by autonomous vehicles are more deadly than those not.

No. All vehicles will talk to each other soon, then accident numbers will drop dramatically. If a vehicle encounters an accident or an icy spot the exact location will be communicated to all vehicles nearby.

I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

If not… then logic pretty clearly isn’t your forte.

This is all Bs yes we’ll have some autonomous vehicles on flat level roads in the desert good luck when there’s fog snow and ice then we’ll see this will never ever become fully implemented once they start running over people and cars will be axed

And you think a human will be better? You clearly do not read the news during winter.

Radar, broad spectrum cameras and lidar see a lot better than humans.

Dude… you’re getting spittle on my screen.

Just what is it about self-driving vehicles that makes you so afraid of them? Are you afraid they’ll put you out of work?

I agree, please read my posting and see if you agree or disagree?

I LIKE the idea of a lot of automated driver assistance. Seen a lot of guys on phones not paying attention, I’d be happy if a computer would keep them out of the oncoming traffic. My vote is for man and machine working together.

The Tesla Semi is so far ahead of other vehicle makers. It will set the mark for others to shoot just like their cars have. I can’t wait to start seeing these on the road in 2020. I have friends that are private truck drivers and they think it’s amazing. They would love to be an owner operator.
I wonder when the 1st Mega Chargers will appear? Using 3 or 5 Super Charger ports will block a lot of Tesla cars. Once those show up with Solar and huge Mega battery packs it will be all over.

Bad….very very bad for truckers everywhere….this will displace so many drivers! They need to be outlawed!

He didn’t mention autonomous driving, he said owner/OPERATORS.

Darn that Model T! We should outlaw it to save all the horses, stable boys, and teamsters!

Actually not. There is already a large shortage of drivers, both OTR and local. It would still take several decades to have all of the drivers off the road. Reason is, not every company or single tractor owner will instantly junk their current tractor/s and buy this new tech.
Plus, the way it is set up now, the projected process is that the computer will drive on the highways and freeways, but once the vehicle hits towns, the human driver will then take over.

Do you know how much of the shortage is due to wages and training opportunity?

So autonomy solves those problems.

Actually, a recent PBS News Hour report concluded that the effect of (not fully) autonomous trucks will be using lower-skilled, lower-paid people to monitor the trucks. So while that may make it easier to get more people to be truck monitors — rather than actual fully trained truck drivers — the effect will be to significantly lower the average wage for truckers.

I think the PBS report got it right. Letting trucks operate without any oversight would make it far easier to hijack them and steal the cargo, as well as making it much more difficult to back the truck up to a loading dock… where you really do need a human being in control. Sometimes more than one, if a spotter is needed!

I’m sure someone will say “Well, a human at the loading dock can take control for those last few feet of travel.” But then all you’ve done is shift responsibility for controlling the truck from the trucking company to the customer. Either way, it takes someone trained to do it.

This won’t disperse any drivers this is not going to happen as you Vision it it’s going to be limited to certain areas I can’t wait to see them go over the Rocky Mountains in a snowstorm with chains on or through fog in the mountains or through the desert with fog or negotiate a major city like Chicago New York Miami Dallas-Fort Worth good luck total chaos

Far safer for a truck to be controlled by a system which “sees” thru fog or a snowstorm with radar or long-wave lidar, than a poor human driver who can’t see thru fog at all!

And if autonomous vehicles can’t negotiate the streets and roads of major cities like Chicago, New York, etc., then they must not be fully developed. Nobody is talking about making it legal for fully self-driving vehicles to operate without human oversight until they can reliably handle roads and traffic in such places.

As far as “total chaos”… when fully autonomous vehicles are using vehicle-to-vehicle wireless communication to “talk” to each other and sort out priority for right-of-way on the roads, ensuring smooth traffic flow and making traffic jams a thing of the past, then it’s only going to be the human driver, sadly blind and deaf to radio waves, which is going to be causing any chaos!

Truckers need to be outlawed? Well, the way the Teamsters are so fully a part of organized crime, certainly some of them should be!

(Warning: This comment may contain traces of sarcasm)

Tesla will set up a Megacharger or two for show when they start selling the Semi. But their customers won’t use these for long haul. Metro area and short haul are the sweet spots. Port to distribution center, DC to stores, etc. Charging will occur at the ends of the route, not in the middle.

The real advantage of autonomy is the continuous operation without breaks for sleep. I think long haul trucking is the real “sweet spot” for autonomous trucking. My only question is who is going to plug in these vehicles on the road. Will they have a sleeping rider aboard or an attendant at each station? Shades of “Maximum Overdrive.”

Dynamic charging allows true continuous operation, with no need for attendants. It would also be much cheaper and cars could piggyback off it. A low end car like a Leaf with a 40 kWh pack could go cross country non-stop.

But that makes too much sense.

Burying tens or hundreds of EV chargers in every mile of every lane of major public roads and highways, instead of EVs needing, on average, less than 2 chargers per vehicle, would make absolutely no sense at all. In fact, I doubt there are sufficient copper reserves in all the world to make dynamic charging on all major public roads a reality.

Making such an enormous investment in dynamic charging on public roads makes even less sense when you consider that the EV will still need a battery pack to go those last miles (or at least last few feet) off any major road, to get to its destination. Spend what would be many trillions of dollars and deplete the world’s copper supply, just to let BEV vehicles use smaller battery packs?

Hardly a plan which “makes too much sense”!

The way I have seen this described is that there will be a human driver in the vehicle at all times, but that the machine will do most if the driving while on the highways and freeways. However, when the truck hits the city or close to the destination, the human will take over. The driver will also be there in case something g happens along the way.

I doubt we’ll see much use of autonomous trucks if the human driver has to take over anytime the truck leaves the freeway. Autonomous vehicles need to be far more capable than that. The human should only be necessary for monitoring, to take over in case of emergency, or to maneuver thru an area where the traffic lanes are not clearly marked (such as some construction zones), and to perform difficult maneuvers such as backing up to a loading dock.

Fleet terminals and fleet way stations should have an attendant, shouldn’t they? Someone to act as guard and prevent theft. He can plug and unplug the trucks as needed. Of course, fully automated plugging and unplugging is possible, but rather more expensive per charger.

They will need to be in the middle because the trucks can only travel between 200 and 250 miles ok n a charge with a full load. They aren’t capable of driving as long distance as a diesel powered truck on a full tank.

Tesla’s long-range Semi Truck is supposed to be able to go 500-600 miles. That may prove optimistic, especially in winter, but don’t be too sure that operations will be limited to 250 miles or less.

And don’t be too sure that no trucking fleet will install way stations to allow the trucks to recharge for a few hours, and keep going longer distances.

It’s all about the economics and the type of routes the trucks are running. For certain trucking companies, operating the trucks for longer distances, 300+ miles, will make sense. For others, perhaps most others, it won’t.

My guess is the first Megachargers will appear along the route between Reno and Fremont.

Indeed. That’s not a long distance but that mountain pass requires a lot of energy.

Because solar is so efficient, right?

Efficiency is not much of a concern when you fuel is free. Solar efficiency is fine & getting better all the time. My roof produces more electricity than I use.

No, because that is where Tesla will need to use Semi Trucks to move freight from Gigafactory 1, near Reno, to Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant in California. And perhaps vice versa, if they start assembling vehicles at Gf1.

And your sarcasm isn’t contributing anything to the discussion. If you have a point, even an off-topic one, then make it.

Sounds great let’s put thousands of drivers out of work
A self driving truck a recipe for disaster.

Yes, and let’s bring back manual telephone switchboards while we’re at it. And ban texting – think of all those telegraph operator jobs we could reinstate.

What if theres a virus. And the system starts working on its own. And have an accident?

Or a comet co ed really close to Earth and takes over all mechanical systems…

Why are you then not worried of your present car and it’s computers? Same idea.

What if a giant meteor were to hit the Earth and obliterate the city where you live?

I mean, if you’re going to start worrying about low-probability events…


TWO Insiders say Tesla semi is NOT good for whole trucking industry.

It will still be a while before autonomous driving is as allowed.

I was hoping to hear about reduction of that toxic health destroying diesel exhaust pollution, elimination of volatile fuel, silent operation, etc.

Except they aren’t silent, still use fossil fuels to be manufactured as well as generate energy.

They are much quieter and the grid is moving away from fossil fuels. Oil is near dead for electricity generation (costs too much), coal is rapidly dying, and even natural gas is now being hunted down as solar & wind are cheaper in many places.

Well, one of the reasons that manufacturing uses fossil fuels and generates greenhouse gases is because of all the freight moved by diesel trucks. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to start moving in the direction of greener manufacturing by using BEV freight trucks rather than diesel trucks?

Furthermore, BEV trucks don’t need to be powered using electricity from fossil fuel power plants. The electricity can be fully, 100% renewable. (In Washington State and some areas of Canada, it’s already 90%+ renewable because of extensive use of hydro power.)

And again, if the electricity isn’t fully renewable, then using BEV trucks rather than diesel is at least a step in the right direction.

I was speaking to a trucking industry bigwig type and he said there are a number of technologies that will help with safety etc but not yet full autonomy. I’ll spare you the long list and skip to what he thought would be the first step…truck trains in Australia. Australia has long empty stretches of highway and trucks are crazy long triple trailers for maximized drafting and minimized people cost. Not much in the way of ice/snow or high traffic or twisty roads, etc. This guy felt a next first step will be ‘trains’ of trucks. The adaptive cruise features can help the trailing trucks maintain a fixed distance from the truck in front close enough to draft and have substantial aerodynamic improvement. Then shortly after that the trailing vehicles will lose the driver and the lead vehicle will be a driver/co-pilot. You can imagine trucks joining the train when entering the interstate and leaving it at an exit and the gap closing up. Oh and on the speed issue. If you’ve got a train of 20 trucks each with triple trailers that’s a big ole thing most without drivers. You can slow the train down to say 55 mph… Read more »

That is part of the Tesla semi plan. They haven’t said that I’ve seen yet, but likely phase 1 for semi-autonomous operation.

This makes a lot of sense. A lead sleeper truck with drivers (almost engineers at this point), and a bigger battery for the less efficient lead position. They could keep moving, only stopping for food and charging with no down time for sleep. Getting cargo there 30% faster would be a huge benefit, and a huge cost saver since you’ll keep your rolling stock much more productive.

This might not be purely an EV play though. Semi-autonomous truck-trains would save massive amounts of CO2 pollution even with conventional diesel engines.

Get to your destination and have a local driver jump into the follow trucks for that tricky last mile problem. I don’t see autonomy working beyond controlled highways for a long, long time. Distribution centers would shift to locations where the trucks could roll right in as a train.

Local delivery seems like an absolute slam-dunk winning scenario for EV trucks in almost every way. Efficiency, maintenance, noise, overnight recharge from the grid instead of fuel tanks or a fuel service.

“…have a local driver jump into the follow trucks for that tricky last mile problem.”

Then you trade the logistical problem of needing a driver for each truck, for the possibly even bigger logistics problem of making sure every single truck has a trained local truck driver meet it when it arrives near the destination, or at least, if not when it first arrives, then at least soon enough to make that “just in time” delivery.

Having local harbor pilots guide large ships into port makes economic sense. I rather doubt it makes sense to hire local drivers for each and every long-distance freight truck delivery.

You like the car bigwigs said Tesla cars would not work?

And remember, Daimler pronounced Tesla’s claims for its Semi Truck to be “physically impossible”!
😆 😆 😆

Tesla has already mentioned that many or most of its customers are interested in “platooning”, which suggests one truck with a human driver followed by multiple trucks which, presumably, would be autonomous and merely follow the truck in front of it.

It’s quite likely that we’ll see that sort of thing before we see fully autonomous trucks allowed to operate on public roads.

Would be fun to read when hackers start redirecting autonomous rigs

Gosh, if I didn’t know better, I would think there were a bunch of concern trolls carpet-bombing this discussion thread. 🙄

There were so many reports about Tesla software bugs, including about Autopilot. How does anyone think this would be a good idea?
Just make the Semi and let it replace the big guzzler trucks. Autonomous driving should be forbidden until tested (by third-party) on millions of miles with 0% error.

by that logic, drivers shouldn’t be allowed either, until they have 0% error, right?

You’re demanding a 0% accident rate?

Oh, so you’re okay, then, with accidents involving heavy trucks, so long as they’re driven by humans.

“The thing to keep in mind is that self-driving cars don’t have to be perfect to change the world. They just have to be better than human beings.” — Deepak Ahuja, CFO of Tesla Inc.

The only way truckers will appreciate hydrogen trucks is to try Tesla trucks first — and run out of juice.

The only way truckers, or anyone else, will “appreciate” hydrogen-powered trucks, is if they’re playing a driving simulator computer game which includes one.

Because in the real world, hydrogen-powered trucks will never be used by commercial over-the-road fleet operators. I seriously doubt we’ll ever see anything more than a small number of low-speed experimental H2 trucks, used only as “yard mules” or port tractors. And that experiment will end as BEV freight trucks become a reality.

The industry is struggling to find driver because company’s DO NOT want to pay fare wages to their drivers.

They can’t even perfect autonomous cars, besides tractor trailers. Remember start small before killing alot of people on the road. Autonomous vehicles should only be used for people that cannot drive themselves and need independence. What other reasons do we need them. We need to fix the problems we have first. Not put alot of people out of work. Stop thinking about the ol mighty dollar n start thinking about people

This truck is gonna get a lot of people killed!! Just restrict it to California!

Was there some social media site that called for a bunch of people to visit this article and post “OH MY GAWD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” comments?

Such a collection of “concern troll” comments I don’t think I’ve ever seen before! At least not on InsideEVs.

Fully autonomous will never happen. Ive seen many technological advancements, but all the time , human interaction is needed.

Know a lot of telephone switchboard operators, do you? You might also consider why freight trains no longer have cabooses, or conductors.

I think your claim ended with the Luddite movement, in 1816.

Can’t wait. Bring it on. It’s mugs life. No enjoyment what so ever. Sooner the better

I see the EV + autonomous trucking playing out in a scenario almost like railroads. I’d dump any railroad stock, now.

In the short-medium term, a limited number key interstate routes will be set up to work especially well for autonomous trucks. The lane markings and conditions will be upgraded and tested for autonomy. Trucks will be able to platoon very efficiently and safely. Charging stations will be setup along these routes. I see it becoming more cost efficient and better for the environment than diesel rail.

Variable conditions such as minor roads, highways with deferred maintenance, urban centers, and winter weather are where autonomy will take many, many years to work. That last .0001% of difficult scenarios, which if you do the math on driving, is fairly common and has to be solved for. But known routes in good conditions will be very feasible for autonomy sooner rather than later, and a lot of freight volume moves on those.

There are intelligent ways to step into full autonomy through semi-autonomous phases. My guesses at the phases are:
-Phase 1: Semi-autonomous with “tract trains” and other current Tesla semi-autonomous capabilities. Driver present 100% of time
-Phase 2: Partial autonomous. Trucks are driven to the highway by a driver, then operate autonomously on the highway with Phase 1, and then met by destination driver to the destination. This is mostly for long haul trucking scenarios.
-Phase 3: Partial autonomous. Phase 1&2, plus complete hub to hub autonomy.
-Phase 4: Full autonomy. Door to door for all situations that don’t require a person with the delivery vehicle for handling the freight.

“If the truck is not reliable enough, there will be crashes.” Yeah, because the alternative (human failure) is so much better.

LOL. Human drivers never Jack-knife their trucks.

This is total BS I want to see them navigate snow ice and Mountain terrain with full load I also want them to see them go into the large cities New York Chicago Miami when I see that without hitting anything or anybody then I’ll be a True Believer until then it’s all Bs

Wow, major troll fest going on here. Some are probably even paid or Russians.
This is what happens when you disrupt a very large industry like trucking or big auto and oil.

Do you think your “concern troll” pravduh rubbish is any more convincing the second time you posted it — in the very same discussion thread — than the first?

Are you getting paid per post by some Russian troll farm, or what, dude?

So will this bring prices at the grocery store down now that diesel will not be a factor and not able to pay a driver that means we should start seeing a cheaper grocery bill??

Interesting subject. I hadn’t considered which industries might show the greatest impact from lower shipping prices. Supermarkets are about the only industry which uses semi tractor-trailers for local deliveries, so it might well have a bigger impact on supermarket prices than elsewhere.

On the other hand, I suspect that local deliveries are only a small part of the price for shipping from the manufacturer to the supermarket. I suspect that using BEV semis for long-haul over-the-road trucking would have a bigger impact on shipping prices.

And how much of what’s sold in the supermarket is moved long distances by freight truck, rather than by train? I wouldn’t expect most foodstuff deliveries to be particularly time-sensitive, unless it was produce subject to fast spoilage. But I could be wrong about that. “Just in time” shipping may be used for a box of Cheerios or a side of beef just as much as it’s used for other products.

Auto parts stores, furniture stores, appliance stores, auto dealerships, any chain store of any size , think like Walgreens, Best Buy Hobby Lobby, florists . just about any local store selling just about anything uses a tractor trailer to get delivered to locally to and from from their distribution centers.

Where grocery chains are unique are that most of them still use lumpers to unload their deliveries at their distribution centers, think 1920’s dock workers. It’s no different today.

They will still need a human driver, so those that are crying about drivers being put out of work can relax. The autonomy will be driving most of the highway and freeway routes. This will lessen the major stress put on the drivers. The human will then take over when the rig gets closer to the destination and then assist with the loading and unloading, as well as refuelling and maintenance issues. The other main issue you are forgetting is safety and security of the loads. There still needs to be someone to load and unload the cargo, and on flat bed trailers, that us tricky and needs to be done safely. Should a strap come loose while on the move, there needs to be someone to secure it and make sure everything else is still secure. Heck, safety measures always call for the straps to be checked after a few miles if the initial starting point, as well as throughout the trip. Let’s also not forget about security of the load. Think about it like this, if there wasn’t anyone driving the vehicle, all you would need to do is get a crew and three cars. Pull in front… Read more »

Wow, what a memorable and enlightening comment!

It had occurred to me that criminals would be more likely to target an autonomous truck for hijacking, because no human driver means no need for armed robbery. But you are quite right to point out that a fully autonomous truck would be ridiculously easy to stop on any lonely stretch of road! No need for any sophisticated hacking to take over the truck. As you say, just two or three normal cars with average drivers should do the trick.

That’s the same technique that police used to safely stop a Tesla car under control of Autosteer with a sleeping driver.

I am a Professional Class A truck driver and I know for a fact that this will not put any driver out of a job EVER. There are too many things that must be done before a trip, during a trip and after a trip in order to stay in compliance with the DOT. Imagine a truck going through weigh scales and through border patrol, who’s going to answer? There will always have to be a Licensed Professional Class A Driver behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound semi truck. There are too many things that you can’t even continue on 2 hands that must be done by a Class A Professional Driver. If you think this will put drivers out of a job THINK AGAIN. This will make things much easier for drivers since they don’t have to drive as much but it will never be able to operate on its own without needing assistance and make important decisions based on weather conditions. Who’s going to slide tandoms when your going into a state that requires you to be at a certain length? And who will do a pretrip in the middle of the trip to ensure that equipment… Read more »

Never say never. Just ask travel agents, magazines, coal miners, etc.

+ 1

Eric, amen brother, it’s an endless list, because it’s not just driving the truck.
Ever see a DOT officer climb up the catwalk to get the trailer papers during an inspection? NOT

There is an incredible amount of variables that always have to be dealt with with almost any load. The current industry with all of its bad shippers, bad brokers, bad receivers, nut case guard shack people, bad infrastructure all around. It’s definately more that just driving truck down the road. This just isn’t happening in a couple years, even automated port yard dogs kill people.

You have a pretty good argument regarding truck weigh stations. Those who say there is a bigger market for using self-driving trucks only for shorter runs can certainly point to highway weigh stations as one example of why.

But it’s rather myopic to claim that autonomous vehicles won’t respond to emergency vehicles, such as police cars and fire trucks. Obviously some system will have to be worked out for that before fully autonomous cars (or trucks) are ever allowed on the roads.

We know that those who are developing self-driving cars are already working on vehicle-to-vehicle communications. It may be that emergency vehicles will be equipped with short-range radio transmitters which broadcast a “pull to the side of the road and stop” signal, to be used in police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.

As for truck weigh stations… don’t be so sure. Seems to me that it wouldn’t be very hard to set up a fully automated weigh station, on which doesn’t even need an attendant. No need to hand paperwork to an attendant if everything is handled by electronic records and wireless communication with the truck.

Weigh stations do INSPECTIONS, level one thru level four. You aren’t going to automate that process. It’s not just about weights and bridge laws, and logs.

A huge amount of the labor at weigh stations is physically verifying the safety integrity and compliance of the truck and trailer.

Why tesla truck is disigned with stearing wheel and seats, there shoud be no drivers att all. So tesla is planning somebody will need to drive that. And second if there will be no drivers, its will be very easy to steal these trucks- just take ove mobile comunication with that truck and that truck will drive where thieft will want. I think its will be be very easy to steal goods and trucks.

The only people going out of work will be Tesla’s. No country will allow full autonomy for 80,000 lbs trucks on their roads.

Truck drivers must be given a practical path to continued employment if carriers and Tesla don’t want to get sucked into a sabotage war.

It’s very funny to read these articles and how misleading they are. Drivers, are always going to be needed. Just because they are autonomous doesn’t mean you don’t need a driver behind the wheel. Second, they will have to pay drivers more because they aren’t only drivers anymore but more of a technician and machine operator. Third, no way in hell will anybody be okay with a semi truck driving on its own with nobody in the cab. Tesla’s auto pilot requires you to have your hand on the wheel and is programmed to make sure you are awake. We are very far away from it and no where close to drivers and owner operators to be losing their jobs/careers(myself included)

“Never” is a long time. There was a time when some State laws required a person to walk in front of a motorcar waving a red flag, because it might scare the horses!

Times change, and culture adapts to new technologies.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” — Shakespeare, Hamlet

And while driving the computer has a malfunction and it just stops.

You could say the same thing about every single modern road vehicle. They’re all dependent on their computers to function.

Except per DOT rules, if the electronic logging fails, you have to be able to produce hand written paper, including inspections, load data, etc. that your electronics fail is no excuse per current DOT rules.
Even more so on haz mat loads.

And yet, we now have electronic banking with no paper trail in case of disaster. Electronic banking which every industrialized nation in the world relies upon.

If you can’t imagine any of this changing to electronic records only, Bunny… then you need to exercise your imagination more. Maybe there does need to be a backup system for tracking such data, but that backup could be electronic, too… just independently operating.

The Space Shuttles were operated by five independently working computers, and in case of disagreement among them, they “voted” for control of the output.

Was only stating what current DOT rules are. But to your point, when banks computers go down they don’t do any more transactions, when a trucks computer goes down you still keep going down the road productively but you are now documenting on paper til such time you can revert to electronics again.

Also, all loads require a paper BOL,
I don’t think you understand how archaic trucking really is and that includes even the top tiers of the industry. There is very little consistency how companies have their freight handled, it’s only where it’s required by law that everybody is on the same page.

This will never work due to trucks have to have enough power to go over mountains and electric engines won’t have the power to do it and will cause prices to sky rocket because of how long it will take to charge and will cause truckers to be late and for the last one saying the trucking community is welcoming of it ia completely false


“…electric engines won’t have the power to do it”

You know almost nothing about electric vehicles, do you? Fortunately, the electric motors used in electric trucks are not limited to the low torque which diesel engines have.

You have no clue on how much weight big rigs haul do you? And diesel engines produce low torgue? Go get an education before spouting nonsense I know for a fact that diesel engines produce high torgue compared to a gas engine and way more than an electric engine

Autonomus trucks with out drivers will be very easy to steal and use for teroristik purposes, like send send them somewhere to destroi something. Today even planes and trains is not fully autonomus. There will be no way that people wount drive truck. Just because of security questions.

Good grief, now the “Oh my gawd, what will happen when terrorists use them?” ploy from the concern trolls!

Yeah, because remotely controlling the steering of an autonomous vehicle is so easy that even a suicide bomber could do it. 🙄

P.S. — Some trains are fully autonomous, Mr. Low Information Poster.

I doubt the public will go for fully autonomous semis in the short or midterm but I could see drone vehicles following a lead vehicle with a licensed driver.

As much as I love Tesla, I really don’t think they will have full autonomous driving ability anytime soon. The driver assist will help with safety as many new vehicles have this.
For trucks, your going to need an operator to do circle checks to check the condition of the vehicle, if a tire or air bag goes not sure a computer would respond correctly. How about obstacles and construction on roads? Then there is changing weather, most operators will know how navigate snowy,rainy weather or even when to pull off when conditions are not good. What about securing loads, hooking up and disconnecting? Unless it’s programmed, computers can’t dock a load.

I could see platooning working pretty well. The problem overall though is construction zones and areas where an accident has already occurred. I do all lower 48 and Canada, I’m 1.5 million miles no preventable accidents. But have been run into by cars, trucks, deer, Have had rocks, bricks and other crap thrown off bridges onto my truck. Even had some jerk stand up in an opposing pickup truck and throw a cantaloupe straight into my windshield at 65 mph. My ex driving partner had the drivers side window shot out by somebody with a gun on I40. I know I found the bullet shell casing. That’s one of the reasons she doesn’t drive anymore. But there is no consistency on how states set up their cones and barriers, I see people driving on the wrong side of the cones pretty often. Police and EMTs are the absolute worst on the interstate. They don’t realize half the time they themselves cause the next accident. I don’t see how you automate some of that, but whatever. Look at the Lion Air 737 crash. Bad senser, automated systems put the plane in the ocean. The insurance companies will have the final say… Read more »

Construction zones certainly will be a problem. Perhaps that will be dealt with by some sort of special reflectors, mimicking the use of orange cones; or a short-distance radio signal which will use vehicle-to-vehicle communications to guide autonomous vehicles thru the zone.

My point is that adaptation to fully autonomous cars won’t be all one-sided. People and society will have to adapt to them, just as the cars will be (are being) programmed to respond to how human drivers behave. Society responded to ubiquitous high-speed motorcars by building high-speed roads and highways, with lines painted on them to show individual lanes. I expect some type of accommodations will have to be made for autonomous cars, too. I expect it will be far less of a change to our culture than the shift from horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars and motorized trucks.

Scary to think a semi without a physical driver. Who will pay for loading & unloading lumber & boats, etc. More wrecks could happen & probably will happen. Companies should think about high cost of deaths or major injuries. It’s very costly to cripple a human for a lifetime. Make America Great Again by keeping all truck drivers in a job.

Generally speaking, loading and unloading of freight isn’t handled by truck drivers. It’s handled by people working at loading docks or freight yards. That goes double for ports; I would hardly expect the semi truck driver to handle a crane moving a load on or off a ship!

Make America Greater by using autonomous trucks, which will have a significantly lower accident rate than human drivers have, as well as being a boost to the economy by lowering shipping prices for nearly everything!

Trucking companies can’t keep drivers because they don’t pay the way they promise. Over the road trucking is a rip off for drivers. Starting pay for a driver in 80 was 25 cents a mile now only 35. Big raise in 40 years.

But the problem there was 1980 is when trucking got deregulated and driver wages sank ever since.

But even today if you have clean 3 year experience ( that requirement is driven by insurance companies) an over the road driver can make far more than .35/ mile. If a driver doesn’t have clean 3 years, they probably need to quit driving and find other profession.

I say anytime you come up with an idea that puts tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or maybe more out of work, How in Gods name can you claim that you’ve came up with a great idea ? Piss on your so called technology, when you hurt and cripple so many hard working men and women financially, then your nothing less than a monster. Those who are coming up with these so called great ideas and hurting so many people in the process should be taken out and shot in the head. They call it great ideas because it saves some people who own companies money, and makes them billions, all the while destroying the lower and middle class people. Technology is a great thing but only when used by those who understand humanity and compassion towards their fellow man

Yeah, it’s terrible how wind farms and solar farms have put so many coal miners out of work.

Oh, wait… no, that’s a vast improvement not to have people engaged in such a very dangerous, health-destroying, low-wage job.

I wouldn’t call changing those lights on top of 200 ft pole towers exactly a safe occupation!

I think people are getting out over their skis if they think we’re going to see fully autonomous semi trucks running on public roads within the next few years.

As some analysts have said — I think some of the more perceptive ones — we may see “platooning” by autonomous trucks following one driven by a human driver before many more years pass, but full autonomy in a vehicle as big and heavy as a fully loaded Class 8 tractor-trailer truck… that’s something which is going to give Federal and State regulators pause. I don’t think they are going to authorize that anytime soon, and not before the safe operation of such vehicles has been proven with millions of road miles driven by test vehicles.

I could see platooning working along the lines how companies now haul triples down the interstate then drop off the extra truck at the lots where the extra pup trailers are staged right along the interstate. Both Volvo and Daimler have platooning protypes, I think Tesla would be a good addition to this segment.

The Nikola semi and the Cummins Westport natural gas engine are better for the trucking industry than the Tesla semi. Nikola plans on laying the hydrogen infrastructure and the Cummins Westport natural gas engine is not only replacing diesel engines in new trucks and buses, but can replace diesel engines already in operation, saving trucking companies a lot of money.

Unmanned autonomous trucks hauling millions of dollars of freight through the American wilderness. Who was the genius who thought this one up? Isn’t there already a issue with stolen freight. Put a bunch of truck drivers out of work and you will have to hire them back as security guards for the freight….

I hate articles like this. By conflating electric drive with full-autonomy, they can say that “Tesla failed” if they do not get full autonomy. For whatever level of “full autonomy” they want to use. The goal post will keep on moving. I don’t want the industry to chase some nirvana of automation. I want full electrification.

I wish my late father in law was alive to drive one of these. He would have no doubt been thrilled with not needing to double clutch through a gazillion gears to get from 0 – 60 only to need to rinse and repeat at every stop or slow down. As for these being autonomous, I am with the “not any time soon” posters on this thread. Before being exposed to Autopilot on my model 3 I thought autonomous cars were less than 5 years out. After having lived with Autopilot I think they are at least 10 years away. Autopilot is a great driver’s assistance tool and I am glad I paid for it but it is a really long way from being capable of full autonomy. For example, it will happily run over an object in the roadway that could lead to a flat tire or crash. It will also happily lane change into or pace another driver’s blind spot.

Automation is coming. In fact, America, in fact the west, needs to deal with illegal immigration soon, while pushing automation into various jobs. This is how to compete.

Truck ing company s better carry lots of insurance when the truck computer has a glitch.