Missouri Could Approve Wireless Truck Convoys
Supporters Claim Driver Jobs Not Affected in Near Term
In another incremental step toward the autonomous vehicle revolution, Missouri could be on the cusp of approving so-called Class-8 truck “platooning,” or wirelessly linked convoys of trucks that drive in close distance to each other for optimized fuel economy. Although driverless trailing convoys have already been demonstrated by Daimler in Europe, the backers of this bill say the trailing trucks will still require a human driver for the time being. The Teamsters union had opposed the bill on the grounds that it would put truck drivers out of business. The backers of the bill say the main objective to legalizing truck platooning is higher fuel economy, claimed to be as much as a 10 percent improvement.
The bill in question only allows for on-road testing and would not be a full carte blanche for all truck operators to start deploying truck platoons on roads. Although these early stage measures claim not to threaten Class-8 truck driver jobs, the longer-term trend is clear. Labor is one of the largest single expenses in ground freight, along with fuel. Elimination of drivers would cut significant costs for fleet operators and would allow 24/7 operation of the trucks. In many states, Class-8 drivers are limited to a maximum driving time of 10 hours and are required to take an eight hour rest break in-between driving shifts. The video below gives a visual demonstration of truck platooning in action.
Source: CBS St. Louis