Laws Slow Self-Driving Truck Development

Stopping Self Driving Trucks

Innovation frequently move faster than government. Whether it is the Federal Aviation Administration blocking commercial use of drones or the Federal Communications Commission's sluggish action on net neutrality, technology is moving at a blistering pace while the government spends more money studying and debating regulations. Regardless of how self-driving trucks may impact jobs and the economy, we can be sure the jobs of lobbyist and politicians are secure.

ABI Research recently released a report that finds federal legislation has a long way to go before self-driving vehicles or caravanning technology for the trucking industry advances much further. Not surprisingly, liability concerns prevent many manufacturers from vigorously pursuing autonomous vehicles. Many of the same companies are currently involved in litigation about their vehicles and in the middle of massive recalls.

In day-to-day driving situations, we humans are constantly making micro-decisions to avoid potential accidents and respond to unexpected situations. While the reaction time of self-driving trucks may be faster than humans and the computer not distracted by drinking coffee or a recent argument with its spouse, there is no computer capable of our level of decision making and abstract thought, nor is there one in the foreseeable future. When there is a driving situation that calls for deductive reasoning, the computer can not outperform humans.

U.S. regulators are already pumping the brakes on self-driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told states they can't allow fully self-driving cars on the highways, like those being tested by Google, other than for testing. The 2014 Mercedes Benz S-Class sedan is capable of what industry analyst call "70 percent autonomous driving." Though European countries have fewer restrictions, U.S. regulations will not let auto manufacturers go much further.

Too much reliance on technology will cause a driver's skills to atrophy. Any vehicle driving system needs to work in conjunction with its human counterpart to provide the safest experience.

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