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Self-Driving Cars Cross US Before Trucks


While self-driving cars could put hundreds of thousands of taxi drivers out of a job, self-driving trucks could leave millions of truck drivers without work. In his book, The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang cites the argument for self-driving trucks to come first:

Jim Scheinman, a venture capitalist at Maven Ventures who has backed startups in both autonomous trucks and cars, says that self-driving trucks will arrive significantly before cars because highway driving is so much easier. Highways, the domain of semi trucks, are much less complex than urban areas, with fewer intersections and clearer road markings. And the economic incentives around freight are much higher than with passenger cars.

Morgan Stanley estimated the savings of automated freight delivery to be a staggering $168 billion per year in saved fuel ($35 billion), reduced labor costs ($70 billion), fewer accidents ($36 billion), and increased productivity and equipment utilization ($27 billion). That’s an enormously high incentive to show drivers to the door—it would actually be enough to pay the drivers their $40,000 a year salary to stay home and still save tens of billions per year.

On the other hand, Elon Musk has suggested that Autopilot will become robust enough to do an autonomous cross-country roadtrip by the end of the year, although he had made similar promises in 2017 and 2018:

We could have gamed an LA/NY Autopilot journey last year, but when we do it this year, everyone with Tesla Full Self-Driving will be able to do it too

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2019

Will a self-driving car make a coast-to-coast trip before a self-driving truck does the same?

This question will have the same resolution condition as a previous question about self-driving trucks. For resolution, the car or truck must have no safety driver, but need not be commercially available. "Coast-to-coast" will be defined as starting in a state with an Atlantic ocean coast, and ending in a state with a Pacific Ocean coast (or vice-versa). Resolution time will be on the date of the first credible media report (in case the trip occurs.)

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