TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. The Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), an arm of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), issued a 50-page position paper on autonomous driving and truck platooning this week, with copies distributed for comment among those attending the North American Automated Trucking Conference here in North Texas.
Richard Bishop – principal of Bishop Consulting, a longtime autonomous vehicle expert, and chairman of the conference – helped write the paper and its five appendixes and noted it will serve as a way to help fleets and their drivers understand the technological, regulatory, and safety issues involved.
"Does platooning need to offer a safety benefit or are the fuel economy savings enough for a valid business case? That's one of the questions we need to ask and answer," he said.
The paper describes the technological systems involved, the status of current research into both truck automation and platooning, where both are most relevant to current trucking applications, driver considerations, plus an analysis of the regulatory and legal issues that may be involved.
Dan Murray, VP-research for the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), stressed that economics "are a huge issue" when it comes to both autonomous vehicle systems and truck platooning, with legal issues regarding liability and negligence "a potential killer" where both of those technologies are concerned.
"The insurance industry will be key to this," he said during the meeting. "They are going to watch autonomous vehicle developments closely. If there are safety benefits, they'll champion it. If there are not, they will be very hesitant to support it."