The freight industry is essential to the economic vitality of the United States. Trucks carry most of the tonnage and value of freight in the nation, and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) forecasts a 23.5% growth in truck freight tonnage by 2025. This projected growth will put tremendous stress on the road infrastructure and the trucking industry. Rapid development in connected and autonomous technology has the potential to help the nation meet the projected freight growth safely and efficiently.
The trucking industry has historically been an early adopter of technology, and in May 2015, a major manufacturer introduced two trucks that can operate in autonomous mode using a combination of camera technology and radar with lane tracking, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering, and other monitoring systems that meet NHTSA’s Level 3 autonomous vehicle definitions. These technologies need to be tested and assessed on public roads, but currently, only five jurisdictions – California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, and the District of Columbia – allow their testing or operation. To facilitate the adoption and implementation of connected and autonomous freight vehicles, the regulatory, planning, policy, operational, technical, and commercial implications of these technologies need to be evaluated.
The objectives of this research were to (1) identify and describe existing and emerging freight regulatory, planning, policy, and operational environments and challenges for connected and autonomous truck technologies; (2) identify public and private sector barriers to, and opportunities for implementation of these technologies in freight operations; and (3) propose next steps for addressing the challenges for deployment and adoption.