Will autonomous semi trucks have a fit in agriculture?

(Jeremy Rempel, Flickr.com, CC BY-ND 2.0)

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States and somewhere around 300,000 in Canada. What does their future hold with recent developments in autonomous or robotic technology?

We’ve talked about the autonomous semi truck Otto delivering beer and appliances in the past.

Last week, we saw Tesla unveil its electric semi truck with a new generation battery and autonomous capability. Elon Musk’s company says it has a 500 mile range at full towing capacity, anti-jackknifing technology, and a guarantee the truck will not break down in the first one million miles. Walmart, Loblaws and truck leasing company Ryder Systems are among the companies that have reportedly already placed orders for these trucks.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rule mandating electronic log books takes effect next month, which will automatically record hours spent on the road, miles driven, location and other factors. (The DOT announced a 90 day waiver for agricultural commodities this week.) Many feel the move to electronic tracking is removing a human element from trucking.

So what about agriculture? Could your next load of cattle or grain be hauled by a tractor trailer with no driver? How would this impact freight rates if there are no rest periods, log books or driver switches required?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below. We want to hear from you to get your thoughts on whether driverless semi trucks have a future in agriculture, and if so how soon?


Shaun Haney

Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. He creates content regularly and hosts RealAg Radio on Rural Radio 147 every weekday at 4:30 PM est. @shaunhaney


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AI is going to come full speed into our lives like a freight train, whether we like it or not, so I think we would be best off accepting it and planning accordingly assuming this is going to happen sooner rather than later. And I didn’t really want to say it but I’m going to… an autonomous semi truck might follow my directions better and show up on time…


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