California Tests Light Autonomous Trucks, Leaves Class 8 on Shelf
In many ways, TopMark Funding’s home state of California is ahead of the curve, such as with stringent engine bans. However, there is one area of interest that California is lagging behind upon when compared to other states such as Arizona and Texas, and that is that it currently forbids the testing of larger vehicles.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported that in 2022, autonomous vehicles within the state borders traveled over 5.7 million miles. However, there is a caveat to that statistic: the driving was performed only by Class 1 and 2 vehicles, weighing less than 10,001 pounds, which is a far cry from the weight of Class 8 commercial vehicles.
With California being the most populous state in the nation, it is likely that the state government is worried about the worst-case scenario regarding these vehicles.
AVIA Executive Director Jeff Farrah says that it is time for a change. “California runs the risk of getting left behind on autonomous trucks, which are forbidden from deploying in the state,” Farrah said in a statement. “One study found that, over time, AV trucks will create thousands of jobs in the state while spurring greater efficiency, investment and economic growth. We encourage state regulators to begin a rulemaking to permit AV trucks so that autonomous trucks can deliver safety and economic benefits.”
Indeed, considering that autonomous trucking company TuSimple completed a fully autonomous truck delivery in Arizona in 2021, including not just highways but also city streets, it seems that the Golden State may be behind the curve on this technological trend.
Ultimately, the trucking industry is going to have human drivers at the helm for many years to come. With so much at stake should something go wrong, 5.7 million miles of autonomous testing for lighter vehicles is a drop in the bucket. If we had to predict, the trucking industry will need at least 6 billion miles of rigorous testing, the distance from Earth to Pluto and back, before it receives the trust of the general public and usurps the human driver. The number TuSimple has done so far? Roughly 150,000 miles.
More likely than not, the adoption of autonomous vehicles nationwide will slowly work its way up from Class 1 into Class 8 big rigs, so jobs in the trucking industry are not going away any time soon.
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