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Self-driving tech aims to improve trucking safety and speed

If the technology startup Otto succeeds in its venture, motorists in Connecticut could soon be sharing the highways with self-driving semi-trucks. The company has developed kits that transform regular trucks into self-driving vehicles. Potential benefits of the technology include faster delivery times and elimination of human driver errors that lead to accidents.

Technology veterans from Google, Tesla and Apple have founded the company, and testing of the truck-transformation kits has begun in several states. Three Volvo VNL 780 trucks have been fitted with sensors, cameras, hardware and software that take in data and steer the vehicles.

The company expects to reduce delivery times by half. Human drivers are limited by federal regulations as to the number of hours they can be behind the wheel in a 24-hour period, but an automated vehicle could go around the clock. By reducing the incidence of exhausted human drivers behind the wheel of a big rig, technology developers predict that many accidents could be avoided.

Concerns about the future of the 1.7 million people working as truck drivers have accompanied the development of this technology. A representative from Otto said that automated trucks would still have human involvement, however. The person inside would handle driving the vehicle on and off the highway and fueling, among other tasks.

With self-driving trucks still in the testing phase, motorists will still be on the road with truckers who are putting in long hours. A person hurt in a crash caused by a fatigued or distracted truck driver might want to have legal assistance in pursuing compensation from the at-fault trucker and, if the driver is not self-employed, the trucking company as well.

Source: CNN Money, "Google Self-Driving Car Vets Take on Automated Trucks", Heather Kelly, May 17, 2016

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