History Made in Nevada with World’s First Autonomous Semi-Truck
Nevada is once again getting national attention due to being one of the first states in the country to issue licenses for autonomous vehicles. Now, it is the self-driving truck. The world’s first autonomous 18-wheeler was unveiled right here in Nevada as part of a multi-million dollar, global media demonstration by Daimler Trucks North America. Daimler showed off this self-driving big rig, the Inspiration, on the road that runs above the spectacular and popular tourist destination, the Hoover Dam. Mary Aufdemberg, Daimler’s director of product marketing for Freightliner Trucks cited that one of their reasons for choosing Nevada to unveil the first-of-its kind, Inspiration Truck is because Nevada is one of the first states in the country to design special regulations for autonomous vehicles along with a unique license plate to denote autonomous vehicles.
With its license in Nevada, Daimler can collect pertinent truck data regarding handling and performance which is instrumental to its interest in truck technology. According to Daimler board member, Wolfgang Bernhard, “total freight traffic shipped by road is expected to triple by 2050 worldwide.”
Autonomous Vehicle Technology, Human Error and Safety
Currently, a human driver is still needed to remain behind the wheel, however, in the future that may not be needed at all which would alleviate the risks associated with human errors. Bernhard noted that 90 percent of truck crashes involve human error, much of this is due to driver fatigue. “An autonomous system never gets tired, never gets distracted,” Bernhard said. “It is always on 100 percent.”
Proponents of self-driving vehicles believe that this autonomous technology will reduce fuel consumption and emissions and improve how we use the roads today, creating intelligent roadways—translating into more cars operating more smoothly on crowded highways and streets in populated areas. Supporters also believe in the safety advantage of self-driving vehicles as compared to human drivers. They contend these autonomous vehicles are equipped with cameras and sensor technology features which enable them to have a better understanding of their environment and faster reaction times to avert potential accidents.
A pioneer of the technology with Carnegie Mellon University, Raj Rajkumar said, “a higher priority so far is teaching them to avoid causing a serious accident that could set public and political acceptance of the technology back years.” With that said, there have been several self-driving car crashes since last year believed to have been caused by human error, according to a recent report.
Nevada Autonomous Vehicle Laws and Regulations
Self-driving semi-trucks could revolutionize the transportation industry, however, concerns remain regarding safety as this new technology continues to be tested. To get more information about the laws and regulations of autonomous vehicles, visit the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.