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When will the first driverless cargo truck make a cross-USA trip?
partnered with Center for the Study of Existential Risk, Machine Intelligence Research Institute, and The Future of Life Institute
Along with autonomous passenger vehicles, autonomous cargo vehicles hold a great potential to remake the transportation industry. Trucks dominate freight movement in the US; according to a 2013 report, trucks moved 13.8 billions tons of domestic freight in 2013, with rail and water shipments totaling 2 billion tons. About half of this freight was moved more than 100 miles. The trucking system is comprised of about 10.5 million trucks, 2.5 million of which are "combination" trucks such as tractor-trailers.
All of these trucks at present have human drivers, but for how long? In October 2016, the first delivery by a driverless truck was reported, and a number of major efforts are underway to build both autonomous trucks and systems to retrofit existing trucks. This issue probably deserves several questions but we can start with a shortish-term one:
When will a driverless truck make a coast-to-coast trip?
For positive resolution, the truck must have no driver (even one in the "passenger seat" who could take over driving), but need not be commercially available (as in the beer-delivery case.) "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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