Best Route for Self-Driving Trucks? Oregon-Washington I5
According to a report released by Inrix, a data company in Washington, the most productive freeway for self-driving trucks is Interstate 5 through Oregon and Washington.
The criteria, according to Transportation Topics, for the analysis is “based on a future business model in which an autonomous truck powered by electric batteries or diesel-hybrid motors would cross long highway miles and then be taken over by people who would pilot the rigs through crowded cities to the final loading dock or port.”
Inrix looked at four criteria to make the rankings:
- I-5 carries a lot of freight. State counts show nearly 21,000 daily truck trips through Tacoma and 12,000 at Longview.
- I-5 is less congested than several other U.S. freeways on a 24-hour basis to operate trucks. Congestion eases throughout southern Washington and southern Oregon for interstate trips.
- I-5 Oregon and Washington corridor is long, about 637 miles between Vancouver, B.C. and Yreka, CA where a self-guided truck could roll for hours at a time.
- High incident rates throughout I-5 can cause sudden slowdowns. Autonomous trucks may be more valuable in avoiding secondary crashes if they can “see farther ahead” and reduce speed sooner than human drivers.
Runners-up for the best routes for self-driving trucks are I-95 from Jacksonville, FL to Miami; I-75 from Valdosta, GA to Miami; I-70 from Utah to Kansas; and I-85 from northeast Georgia to Greensboro, N.C., where companies could reduce the cost to move freight once self-driving vehicle technologies are ready.
According to Daimler, trucks transported about 70 percent of all freight in the U.S. in 2012 and by 2050 the global trucking industry is expected to triple. However, with increased freight opportunities comes increasing congestion, pollution, and potential accidents.
According to ATRI, IHS Automotive states that “autonomous truck sales could reach 60,000 annually by 2035 [or] 15% of sales for trucks in the big Class 8 weight segment.” If hypothetically 60,000 autonomous trucks were added annually starting today (instead of 20 years from now), it would be more than five years before autonomous trucks made up 10 percent of the total fleet. Thus, the IHS prediction does not see rapid adoption in the shorter term.
Also, self-driving trucks will require redesigned highways, revised regulations, new traffic rules, enforcement, and enhanced safety, both physical and cyber, that regulators will need to deal with first.
The Inrix report predicted few self-driving trucks on the road over the next five years, but they could become ubiquitous in 20 to 50 years.
For more details, read the full Transportation Topics article.