Following passage of a House bill last week that set the framework for autonomous automobiles, trucking gets its chance to state its case today in front of a Senate committee.
The Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will live-stream the hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Expected to testify is National Safety Council CEO Deborah Hersman, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, and Colorado State Patroller Col. Scott Hernandez.
“Self-driving technology for trucks and other large vehicles has emerged as a pivotal issue in Congress’ attempt to help usher in a new era of transportation,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said in a statement.
The group Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), which advocates for the “swift and safe deployment of self-driving vehicles on our nation’s public roadways,” has called on NHTSA to remove barriers to the integration of advanced driver assistance systems.
“As the Senate continues to discuss the pivotal issue of self-driving technology and what it means for trucks and other large vehicles, it is important to understand how existing technologies could significantly increase cost-savings and efficiency within the industry—as well as save thousands of lives,” the group said, adding that “the federal government should encourage testing and pilot projects for advanced technologies that save lives, fuel, and money.”
SAFE estimates that platooning alone could save 20 billion gallons of fuel through 2050.
Did you know?
Freight deliveries by trucks are expected to increase 40% through 2040.
“I’m concerned about highway safety. I am concerned about jobs. I am concerned we are moving too fast in a very, very strategic area that we have to make sure we are doing it right because lives are involved.”
- James P. Hoffa, Teamsters president, on autonomous trucks
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While the House of Representatives was widely praised last week for passing a bill to streamline development of autonomous cars, the exclusion of trucks in the bill is notable. The Senate is discussing trucks today, but there is no assurance they will be included in any final bill, even though commercial vehicles will likely be the first large-scale adopters of the technologies.
Hammer down everyone!