MELVILLE, N.Y. – Big rigs today are loaded with up to 80,000 pounds of cargo barreling down the highway at speeds over 55mph. Now image that same truck without a driver.
The group, made of 40 former employees of self-driving giants like Google, Apple, Tesla, and others formed a new company called Otto with the goal of transforming the commercial trucking industry.
Before the fear (or gratitude) sets in, a Long Island truck accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says initially, all self-driving vehicles should still have a driver at the wheel.
“Self-driving technology is so new, we don’t really know what would happen if we set a truck in motion with just the computer at the wheel,” Long Island truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Autonomous 18-wheelers could make the roads safer but tech companies won’t know until they try it with a veteran driver behind the wheel.”
Otto plans to attach sensors, cameras and lasers to big rigs that will eventually navigate more than 220,000 miles of US highways with little assistance from a driver. Currently, the plan will only put the machines in control on the highways. A driver would still need to be present when entering city streets.
Long Island truck accident lawyers say the most dangerous truck accidents occur in heavily populated areas or on small country roads.
“Trucks have very large blind spots, making them extremely dangerous,” Cellino said. “Truck drivers must be trained to spot smaller vehicles or people and avoid accidents with them, which can take months of driving lessons.”
Attorneys say trucks equipped with sensors and blind spot cameras are already on the roads – but the technologies attached to these big rigs are tools to help the driver avoid a crash. Leaving the truck in the hands of the machine could have catastrophic consequences.
“Without a trained driver at the wheel, there’s no knowing what would happen if any component fails or malfunctions on an 18-wheeler,” Cellino said. “Although the intention is to make roads safer, millions of drivers may feel better knowing there’s a trained human at the helm.”
Otto is currently eyeing the market for 1,000 truckers to volunteer their vehicles which would have self-driving kits installed in the cabs. Otto said the volunteers would still be expected to take the wheel in emergencies and monitor the truck to make sure it is following local driving laws.
If the company gets to see its ultimate goal, more than 5 million trucks could be equipped with driverless technology in the coming decades.
On one end, it would solve a truck driver shortage the nation is currently facing but on the other hand, are drivers willing to trust the machine?
Long Island truck accident attorneys say there are currently 3,500 deadly big rig crashes every year and many of the crashes are linked to driver fatigue. If you’ve been injured in a big truck accident, the Long Island truck accident lawyers can help you obtain the best result possible.
Contact a lawyer today or visit the Cellino & Barnes LinkedIn page to learn more about how Cellino & Barnes has helped thousands of clients get the compensation they needed.