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What is Autonomous Trucking?

What is Autonomus Trucking (blog)

In recent years, rapid advancements in technology have paved the way for big changes in the transportation industry. One of the most discussed innovations is the development of Autonomous Trucking, which includes Automated Driving Systems (ADS) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Autonomous Trucking could revolutionize the commercial transportation industry. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and sensor fusion, these technologies can enhance safety, optimize fuel efficiency, and improve the overall proficiency of logistics operations. The ability of these systems to reduce human error, enhance situational awareness, and react faster than human drivers could lead to significant advancements in road safety and operational efficiency.

The difference between ADS and ADAS

Definition of ADS

ADS, or Automated Driving System, is technology that allows certain driving tasks to be performed autonomously by the vehicle, reducing the reliance on human intervention and potentially improving safety and efficiency in commercial transportation.

Definition of ADAS

ADAS , or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, are technologies designed to assist drivers in operating vehicles more safely and comfortably. ADAS features typically include collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. These systems use sensors, cameras, and advanced algorithms to detect and respond to various driving conditions, aiming to prevent accidents or reduce their severity. Most of these features come standard on new CMVs. 

While CMV ADA focuses on the integration of higher levels of automation into commercial motor vehicles, ADAS generally refers to the suite of technologies that provide assistance to drivers but do not fully automate the driving task. ADAS can serve as a foundation for CMV ADA technology, as it provides the building blocks for more advanced automation in the future.

Levels of automation

To effectively regulate ADS in CMVs, it is crucial to understand the levels of automation defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). These levels categorize the extent to which a vehicle can operate autonomously, ranging from no automation to full automation.

Autonomous Trucking - Levels of Automation

Level 0 - No Automation

The human driver is responsible for all aspects of driving, and there is no automation present in the vehicle. The driver controls acceleration, braking, and steering.

Level 1 - Driver Assistance

Involves systems that provide limited driver assistance. Examples include adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed to maintain a safe distance from the preceding vehicle, and lane-keeping assistance, which helps the driver stay within the lane.

Level 2 - Partial Automation

Represents vehicles that can simultaneously control two or more primary functions, such as acceleration, braking, and steering, under certain conditions. However, the driver must remain fully engaged and monitor the driving environment at all times. Tesla's Autopilot and other similar systems fall under this category.

Level 3 - Conditional Automation

Allows the vehicle to manage most aspects of the driving task under specific conditions. The driver is not required to monitor the driving environment continually but must be ready to take control within a reasonable response time when prompted by the system. This level introduces a significant transition of responsibility between the driver and the automation system.

Level 4 - High Automation

The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under specific conditions and environments without the need for human intervention. However, there may be limitations or restrictions on the operating conditions. In certain situations, the vehicle may still require the driver to take control.

Level 5 - Full Automation

Represents fully autonomous vehicles capable of performing all driving tasks without human intervention. These vehicles are designed to operate in all conditions and environments that a human driver could handle.

autonomous trucking is still in the development stage

It's worth noting that while autonomous trucking has the potential to transform the industry, it is still a developing technology.

Several companies and researchers are actively working on the development and testing of autonomous trucking systems, but widespread deployment and commercialization are still in progress. Additionally, regulatory frameworks and infrastructure considerations need to be addressed to ensure the safe integration of autonomous trucks into existing transportation systems.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that, “ADS-equipped CMVs have the potential to produce measurable safety benefits in crashes involving human error. ADS-equipped CMVs, however, present operational characteristics and challenges that may introduce new and complex safety risks that need to be monitored and may require FMCSA to modify existing and/or adopt new regulatory standards. ADS developers are actively engaged in the development, testing, and limited deployment of ADS.”

Want to read more? Check out our article on the 5 Pros and Cons of Autonomous Trucking!

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