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Truck fleets under pressure to adapt to autonomous technology

Autonomous truck technology is likely to follow a similar path to acceptance as smartphones, according US traffic safety expert, Dr James Hedlund.

In an interview with Heavy Duty Trucking, Dr Hedlund said we could “start to see early adaptors start to work with autonomous vehicles … within the next five years” – with legislation the biggest hurdle to overcome.

“The technology is moving very quickly – much faster than the regulatory and legislative efforts – and we need to be really flexible on this front. We don’t need to be taking five years to pass laws based on concepts and technology that was cutting edge 10 years ago,” he said.

According to Dr Hedlund, truck fleets are under great pressure to move materials quickly and efficiently – forcing them to be more open to technological change.

“Autonomous technology can help them do that in a somewhat more controlled manner. Also, in an industry plagued with liability issues, autonomous technology can help them run safer.”

Dr Hedlund, a consultant working with the US Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a not-for-profit body representing the US state and territorial highway safety offices, has published over 60 research studies, conference summaries, research syntheses, and guides on a variety of behavioural traffic safety subjects over a 30-year-career in the industry.

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