The New Knights of the Road: AI Drivers

Since early October, autonomous trucks have been hauling Frigidaire refrigerators along the I-10 freeway, from El Paso, Texas to Palm Springs, California.—Embark Truck Co.

My father was a knight of the road for 50 years. He drove Peterbilts, Macs and every other 18-wheeled semi truck on the American highway. He was a gadget guy who loved adding after factory stuff, like air horns that sounded like they came off the Queen Mary. On the outside his rig looked like a rolling discotheque when ever a new branch of lighting came on the market.

He was man who picked up a load in Maine, looking shaved, freshly dressed, with shirts pressed and always with polished black boots, silver collar tabs and chrome eagle pins on the heels of his boots. And when he arrived in Los Angeles a few days later, he got out of the rig as if he had never gone a mile of highway or spent a minute behind the wheel. He was a pro and he was probably one of the last of his kind.

The New Top Dogs of Trucking

Since early in October of 2017, you may have been driving next to a semi that was fully loaded with refrigerators. So far so good right? Now you look up and notice a handsome trucker looking fellow in the cab. However, the fellow seems to be on the wrong side of the front seat. He is in the passenger seat, calmly staring at a computer screen as he sips his coffee. The steering wheel in on the left side of the truck, but there is no one with their hands on the wheel. The truck is driving itself, hauling freight between Texas and California on a 650-mile stretch of roadway. Most drivers along that part of the I-10 never noticed.

The company is Embark, and CEO Alex Rodrigues says

“It showcases the way that we see self-driving playing into the logistics industry.”

Embark is one of several major corporations that believe in autonomous vehicles⎯and are investing heavily in them.  Manufacturers like Daimler and Volvo are working on the best ways to get their vehicles roadworthy, along with Elon Musk’s Tesla corporation.

Uber has already been hauling beer across Colorado with smart semis.


AI Driving The Changes