truckinginfo.comJeremiah W. Nixon, Missouri Governor vetoes platoon program for testing automated long-haul trucks using platooning technology.

In a recent story about the governor’s veto, Heavy Duty Trucking magazine elaborated on the reasons behind it.

In a letter explaining his veto, Gov. Nixon said that establishing a pilot program for testing platooning vehicles on Missouri highways could put the public at risk. He specifically referenced an accident involving a self-driving Tesla car that led to the death of an Ohio man as an example of the danger automated driving technology could pose.

“Automated driving technology advanced significantly within the last several years. However, the long-term safety and reliability of this technology remains unproven,” Nixon stated. “That fact was tragically highlighted with the recent fatality involving a self-driving passenger vehicle.”

According to Heavy Duty Trucking, in the May 7 Tesla incident driver Joshua Brown died while using the Autopilot feature of his Tesla Model S.

A white tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection, but the autopilot failed to “see” the vehicle and did not brake. The Autopilot’s cameras were unable to recognize the white trailer against a brightly lit sky.

However, Governor Nixon felt platooning posed an even greater risk to the public. It requires multiple large trucks to travel in tandem with little separation and synchronized braking and acceleration.

“The risks associated with automated vehicles are even greater considering the size of long-haul trucks and the catastrophic damage that could occur if the technology failed,” he stated. “Using Missouri highways as a testing ground for long-haul trucks to deploy this unproven technology is simply a risk not worth taking at this time.”

Read the full Heavy Duty Trucking story here.

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In Germany Friday, Daimler Trucks ran a real-world test of what it says is the first series-production autonomous truck to operate on the highway.

autonomous truck

The autonomous truck, a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros, was equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot system for the test on public roads.

“Today’s premiere is a further important step towards the market maturity of autonomously driving trucks – and towards the safe, sustainable road freight transport of the future,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, the Daimler AG board member responsible for trucks and buses.”

According to the article, a combination of new technology allowed the truck to to continually observe the entire area in front of the vehicle and to take control itself in certain situations.

The test scenario goes like this:  As soon as the truck has entered the flowing traffic in the right-hand lane, it’s “Highway Pilot On,” and the system offers to take over vehicle operation. The driver can confirm at the press of a button. The Mercedes keeps to its lane and maintains the optimum distance to the vehicle in front of it. Should the distance become too small or if a vehicle cuts in front of it, the truck brakes.

When it senses the vehicle is approaching an obstacle, the automated system asks the driver to take over the vehicle.

Daimler emphasized that the Highway Pilot does not replace the driver, but supports and relieves the strain on him or her by dealing with monotonous stretches and taking care of annoying stop-and-go driving in a traffic jam. In automated mode the driver has control over the truck at all times and in tricky situations can take over driving of the vehicle again.

For the full report on how effectively the truck managed on the road, read the rest of the story here.

Image from Daimler