Self-driving big rigs are becoming more common in New Hampshire and the rest of the country. The companies that make them have made several tests on public roads to prove their safety, but questions still arise about the risks of allowing computer-controlled trucks to operate fully on busy state roads. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of self-driving trucks.
How they generally work
Companies that make self-driving big rigs like Waymo, Aurora, TuSimple, Uber, Ford and Tesla have built upon car technologies that have been around for years like automated braking, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. They have added more improved camera systems, depth sensors, speed monitoring, maps, radar and autopilot features that remove the need for a human driver.
Generally, the trucks can auto-drive safely on roads with these features as confirmed by several tests. However, human drivers will still be necessary in case the technology starts to fail, if repair is needed in the cabin or in navigating busy or small cities.
Risks of self-driving big rigs
- Hackers can take over the truck – Malicious hackers can exploit the complex systems used in self-driving big rigs to take over control or even cause motor vehicle accidents. Since self-driving trucks are made with the ability to communicate with each other, sending and receiving data that could be helpful on the road, an attacker can get into that network and interfere with the systems or information transfer.
- Motion sickness – A self-driving truck will have an experienced human driver behind the wheel in case something happens to it that needs fixing. Many human drivers report motion sickness, resulting in nausea and sometimes vomiting.
- Liability – Finding the person to blame for a self-driving truck accident can be quite challenging. Manufacturers can claim that the human driver should have taken over control to prevent the accident. The human driver can blame the software engineer for faulty systems. Regardless, the trend so far has been to blame the operator.
Companies producing self-driving big rigs have claimed that they can reduce road accidents by up to 90%, but that doesn’t mean that they are perfect. Like any other technological advancements, there are still risks associated with this new venture.