AV Trucking (Autonomous Vehicle Trucking) is getting a bit of pushback from a number of state governments. The success of the supply chain is dependent on trucking, and considering the ongoing driver shortage, there’s plenty of chatter surrounding autonomous vehicles–some supporting the idea and some banning it altogether. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, as some trucking companies forge ahead with development, all while some states place restrictions on their progress. The latest state to take the route of restriction is California, which overwhelmingly passed a bill that would require safety operators on board AV trucks.
For now, the bill serves as a setback to the numerous AV development companies based in the state. Volvo Autonomous Solutions, Gatik, Aurora Innovation, and TuSimple Holdings all call California home and worked through the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA) to lobby against it. The Teamsters Union, on the other hand, applauded its passage.
The bill doesn’t represent a final word on AV trucking in the state—and the governor has yet to sign it—but rather a stay. The bill requires the state DMV to issue a report about AV technology and its impact on all vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. Other requirements include crash reports from companies to the state DMV, along with reports on when the AV’s autonomous mode is deactivated when an operator takes over.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, in Pittsburgh, a new start-up known as Stack has announced its plans to launch an AV trucking business. Its backers have an interesting history with the technology, having founded passenger car startup Argo AI. That company began in 2016 and was backed with funding from Ford and Volkswagen, but ultimately shut down in 2022.
A Pittsburgh-based AV company shakes up the existing geography of AV trucking, which until now had largely been southern-based. In places like Texas and Oklahoma, for instance, legislation surrounding AV trucking development has been much looser than in other parts of the country, making them attractive to companies looking to start up. Pennsylvania, however, passed AV-development-friendly legislation last November. The law had previously prohibited AV vehicle operation on state roadways without a human operator in the vehicle. The 2022 law allows either the testing or deployment of AVs without a driver.
Pennsylvania’s move in support of AV trucking development and California’s opposition demonstrates how the country remains in a patched-together situation. Current federal laws governing AV trucking make it difficult for trucking companies to navigate long-haul routes. Crossing a state line with no human driver can pose a host of challenges, and AV trucking companies must remain up to date on a constantly evolving landscape. Developers see the path forward in supply chain industry working groups that can provide input on the need for AV trucking, considering the driver shortage. Communicating with state and federal lawmakers and other stakeholders is also part of the equation. While the industry remains stymied by the driver shortage, AV trucking will eventually offset some of its impacts.
Contact OPSdesign to learn how we can help to automate your supply chain operations (even if AV Trucking is a long way off!).