Autonomous Truck to Save The Planet?

It is well known that autonomous trucks boost fuel efficiency if they are compared with human-driven trucks.

In a report by Aurora Innovation, it was found that autonomous trucks could achieve a 13%–32% net energy efficiency improvement per loaded mile compared to human-driven miles.

Aurora has been committed and sees the opportunity and benefits of running 20 autonomous trucks for commercial operation later this year. However, this commitment by Aurora is still seen as dangerous by most people in America. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), two out of three Americans are scared of autonomous trucking.

According to the paper author, Garrett Bray, who has a Ph.D. in engineering and leads several functions at Aurora, including sustainability, “While no single solution will solve the emissions crisis, autonomous trucks present a significant opportunity to improve the sustainability of freight-hauling fleets and reduce emissions in the transportation sector.”

Robot Don’t Sleep

Truck drivers usually get paid by the mile. In order to maximize their income, most drivers are trying to transport the container as fast as possible to make the most of the 11-hour driving limit.

With the autonomous truck, there will be no more drivers who drive to beat the clock. Autonomous trucks get paid per mile, but they are not bound by the 11-hour drive limit and can operate 24 hours a day. Aurora limits its autonomous truck speed to 65 mph.

This reduced speed limit decreased aerodynamic drag by 14–25% and cut energy consumption by 9%–17%.

Idling also reduces efficiency. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency describes idling as when a human driver is sleeping, eating, or relaxing. Idling takes up to 45% of a truck’s time when it is running. An autonomous truck doesn’t need any of that. This energy efficiency of an autonomous truck is able to run continuously, not like a conventional truck that will consume energy when the truck machine is still running while the truck is in the rest area or hub terminal.

The Future

In the future, Aurora doesn’t close the possibility of using an electric truck, but as of right now, gasoline autonomous trucks are still much more preferred and reliable since autonomous trucks don’t have an hour to charge in order to fulfill their transport needs without decreasing their efficiency.