“Otto” Self-Driving Truck Test on Ohio Roads this Week
Next year, the route 33 corridor is scheduled for fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems to aid autonomous driving.
A self-driving truck will begin traveling on two Ohio roads next week after state officials announce details of new investments to support innovative transportation technology.
A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio between Dublin and East Liberty, home to the Transportation Research Center, an independent testing facility. It will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said Friday, adding that “safety is obviously No. 1.”
Officials say that section of Route 33 – a four-lane, divided road – is an important piece of autonomous vehicle research in the state and will become a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year. Gov. John Kasich is scheduled to discuss details of that investment and other efforts to support autonomous vehicle research on Monday before the truck hits the road.
“Certainly we think it’s going to be one of the foremost automotive research corridors in the world,” Bruning said.
The self-driving truck is also expected to travel next week on part of the Ohio Turnpike, though Bruning said he couldn’t yet detail when or where.
The turnpike’s executive director said in August that officials were moving toward allowing testing of self-driving vehicles on the 241-mile toll road, a heavily traveled connector between the East Coast and Chicago.
Kasich has pushed for Ohio to be a leader in the fast-advancing testing and research of autonomous vehicles. State officials say Ohio is well-positioned for such a role for many reasons, including a significant presence from the automotive industry in the state, partnerships with university researchers, and the seasonal weather changes that enable testing a variety of driving conditions in one place.
Once again competition is the driving force that will guarantee success no later than a 2022-2024 time frame. By the end of that period, if not much sooner, long-haul truck jobs will vanish.
States will want to catch up with Ohio. Fiber optic solutions used in Ohio are just one possibility for solving snow and ice problems.
Substrate plotting and analysis is another possibility. Possibly both will be used. Sensors will become smaller and much cheaper.
Perhaps drivers will be needed for final delivery in cities and remote locations, but the need for long-haul interstate and major state highway drivers will vanish.
How Many Jobs Lost?
My statement that “millions of long haul truck driving jobs will vanish in the 2022-2024 time frame” is likely way off on the low side if one counts Uber, taxi, and chauffeur driven vehicles.
Take a look at Uber’s goal once again: “replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.”
That’s just Uber. And those jobs will vanish. All of them. What about Lyft? Taxis?
For further discussion, including a rebuttal to the often stated claim that driverless vehicles cannot work in snow, please see Uber Offers Driverless Rides This Month! What About Snow, Rain, Pigeons, 80-Year-Olds on Roller Skates?
My long-stated timeframe for millions of long-haul trucking jobs to vanish by the 2022-2024 is likely too distant.
The components are all in place. Regulation has five years to catch up, and it will. Competition ensures success and DOT is already on board.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock