It seems auto pilot technology is here and is spreading, Tesla and Mercedes have both been spreading the good word and look to claim leadership in this new field. Mercedes is advertising their new self-driving city bus with futuristic interior that has already been successfully test-driven. Elon Musk in his Master Plan, Part Deux announces plans to expand the Tesla self-driving fleet to new small buses and self-driving big rigs by next year. Elon reminds us the purpose of all of this effort is sustainability and not profit. He states ” the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.” Tesla claims that it is deploying partial autonomy now rather than waiting because “when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”
We hope that this emphasis on safety continues as it has been near non-existent for most truck and trailer manufacturers. We remind all manufacturers that high-speed crashes will continue to exist for some time and we require high-speed underride guards to maintain crash compatibility with other road users and their crash protection systems. The gaps on the sides of trailers without underride guards as an example, invisible to obstacle detection systems on new cars and deadly in crashes above 25 mph as the car’s crumple zones, seat belts, and air bags do not deploy.
We welcome this new safety technology and welcome swift deployment as the possibility of reducing by 90% the world’s future 2 million annual traffic fatalities is now becoming reality. Proceed with due caution but for human life’s sake proceed!
Tesla hires Jerome Guillen, the former Model S program director whom was a longtime Daimler engineer and led the development of the successful Cascadia truck. He is in charge of developing the “Tesla Semi” truck.