Robot trucks?? Are you kidding??
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Back in 1998 I used to see them testing self driving cars on the express way in San Diego while it was closed to regular traffic.
I spent over 10 years of my life working for a company that was trying to automate a manufacturing and bagging facility. We couldn't get sensors or PLCs to operate reliably enough to even ever get it changed over . We spent about $55 million on this project before it was thrown in the dumpster in 2014.
I think technology is advanced enough for this but then after the prototype works they send all the components out to the lowest bidder and it all goes to pot.
We worked in a wet environment. Had some boards made in the good ol USA (California). Boards wouldn't last a month and fail!!!! What, we have been using similar boards forever?
Come to find out you can't use led in the solder anymore so the connections just corroded immediately with a 12v power.
Programming..... well the guys that do that couldn't lace up a pair of work boots if you drew them a schematic! They think they need to change everything you tell them because of this and that! There will be so many back doors and patches in anything they make by the time it gets to market it will fail.
Having people to repair and trouble shoot this stuff will also be a huge challenge. People that have the schooling and knowlage will not be climbing all over a dirty road truck to be checking and testing sensors and wiring. There are to many other clean environments with a much slower pace to work than a truck shop without air conditioning.
Will this eventually come to pass? Sure but my opinion is it will be quite some time for commercial trucks. Passenger vehicles maybe with driver assistance? But without a driver to blame is doubtful in my life time with any sort common place.
All this hype and news is to get money!!!! Believe me I saw it first hand while I was with that company. You have to get a buzz going about it and keep showing some kind of smoke and mirrors progress to keep the suckers..... oops... I mean investors wallets open.
So glad I just drive a truck for a living now. Lol
I have a story similar to @Tug Toy. Once upon a time there was a unionized welding shop and the managers thought it would be a good idea to buy welding robots to replace the welders. They pitched it to the big boys and they got the money and after that it was going to happen regardless of anything. It had to or else it would be embarrassing for the pitchers. I was hired to program the thing. It didn't matter that I told them a robot can't do what a human does. It didn't matter that the robot can't adapt like a human. Well I think at 8 hrs it had the longest run time of any program anywhere. Every shift it would spit out a new unit and it went straight to repair station for the guys to fix but we replaced those humans alright! It could weld great in a straight line but wouldn't go around corners very well. I see some similarities here.Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
One bandolier of slightly misaligned smd caps or resistors and whammo!! Takes a human to watch and then figure it out.
However that isn't dangerous just expensive.
Add in the deadly aspect and sprinkle in a few dead bodies and maybe that autonomous truck stuff doesn't look quite so 'cost' effective.
At one point I was dealing with 'safety'. I was the technical pointy end for the attorneys. I would say that for the most part I was investigating exploding batteries and fires straight into someones earhole. We had to justify lithium batteries. Lithium batteries love catching fire. It is their happy place.
Yet we are surrounded by them.
It is a balancing act. likelihood against worst case scenario. The trucks are very much the same. They will come, no doubt but not in my working life. I will be in my 80s or 90s before they are a common sight.
I think once they do come it will be a relative avalanche like smartphones.
YES robot trucks are coming but not anytime soon. I have already outlined the dificulties. They will be overcome but it will take decades. 2 other words insurance and regulations.
The following is a response to a Truckers Report article that I received in the emailed newsletter. Note that this guy is already using an autonomous package.
I stated earlier in this thread the technical reasons why this idea is a pipe dream. I used my long career in RF as an electronics tech to base it on.
This robot stuff is very unlikely to happen in my lifetime. Anyway read what Andrew says and you will realize that all this can ever be is a glorified cruise control on steroids.
"Andrew H says
June 15, 2018 at 6:17 am
I’m a line haul trucker who operates across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My truck is a 2018 Cascadia with the level 3 autonomous driving package. On a nice day or night, the system is nice. However…
They should take a driverless truck across US-2 in the winter. Within 5 miles I guarantee you that a sensor will be covered in snow, rendering the self driving truck useless.
Even if they go through with it, someone should be at the helm at all times. There are way too many variables on the road that will make self driving trucks more dangerous, especially on highways like US-2 that’s a beast on its own.
And if they start making dedicated lanes for self driving trucks, then why not just make railroads? It’s all silly to me. I do like the automated features of my truck, but I also understand that my technology is not perfect, and to remain aware of my surroundings at all times. I think of the system like a co-pilot, an extra set of eyes to look with me."
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