NYT predicts future of truck stops with the rise of autonomous trucking

The New York Times ran a piece on the changes which await for truckers.

The New York Times ran a piece on the changes which await for truckers and the trucking industry. The through-line seems to be that as autonomous trucks reshape how cargo gets from one place to another, “the support system that serves [truckers] is at risk of disappearing,” referring to the variously good or miserable truck stops set like waypoints on the U.S. highway system. As per the article, there are 550,000 over-the-road truckers and touches on a number of other troubles they face as well — complicated driving regulations, punishing hours, expensive food on the road, and the egregious difficulty of finding a place to park. That’s where the piece is on the most solid ground. About the autonomous trucking, yes, it’s coming, but as with autonomous cars, the mass adoption of self-driving trucks needs decades to overcome issues like geography, weather, and human nature.


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The thinned-out and empty shelves in almost every kind of store make the current global situation the perfect catalyst for pushing development of self-driving trucks. And there are already driverless big rigs making runs in the South, where long, mostly straight sections of highway ease the challenge for tractors the same way they do for cars. But truckers don’t make their money on the highway, they make their money getting the load from the highway off-ramp to the warehouse without clobbering cars and infrastructure on roads designed to accommodate much smaller vehicles. This is the reason that it will take so long for the industry to replace truck drivers with driverless trucks.