I completely sympathize with the concerns in the article, but I have faith that Tesla will be able to overcome the challenges and some of them are perhaps not looking at the trucking industry "of the future" here's a good example:
The concern about a roll down window isn't that big of a deal. Doing rolloff meant crossing a scale multiple times per day where you'd exchange paperwork with the scale house attendant. I just completed a project that will keep drivers in the cab while at a landfill/transfer station if they have a tablet and the site is connected with our scale software. All of the interaction is done on a tablet while the truck is on the scale, the driver never leaves their seat or rolls down a window. If we're doing stuff like this for garbage, surely other trucking is going to be be digitizing these types of interactions and there are some nice big screens in the truck to make it easy.
The biggest concern that I share is the passing issue with a center seat, but that should be easily solved with a camera that shows a forward view when a turn signal is engaged. Two big screens mean you'd get a forward and all the blind spot views necessary to make a safe pass.
Side note: If Tesla wants to make a version for hauling trash, they could have an enormous impact on local emissions.
I was suprised to see there are 13,000+ freight brokers in operation. Where's the Uber?
Re: mirrors. They're not there for aerodynamic reasons. The semi has a lot of cameras, so you'll have to use the screens. Sometimes a mirror or sticking your head out the window might be preferable, but it's a reasonable substitute.
Re: night mode. It'd be nice if they used OLED screens with a dark theme so you can really crank down the brightness and black is completely black. Still time to change that if it isn't, so hopefully somebody from Tesla is reading this and/or advocating for it.
Those are not typically driving on roads though. The seated position next to the center line means you don't have to pull as far into the other lane to see oncoming traffic.
Semis pass too.
WRT mirrors: no matter the high tech solution, having a manual backup is a prudent precaution. A mirror is harder to take out with a single splash of mud. It will also ease the transition between driving normal rigs to driving the Tesla rigs. Drivers working within their comfort zone is important when they're running for 10 hours at a time.
[EDIT] Wrote this before reading the article; frankly, the author does a much better job explaining why so many mirrors are a bonus (it's not just behind the truck that matters), and covers the central seating explanation much better. Short of being a trucker, I'm not sure how we can contradict his comments.
Never mind mud, what about the ice? I drove trucks for a while and the entire front of my truck was routinely coated with snow, slush, and ice. If it was heavy enough I'd have to pull over and tap at it with a 'tire thumper' to knock huge chunks off periodically. Keeping the windshield clear was a constant battle. I wonder what kind of camera or sensor could be used that wouldn't ice up. Traditional mirrors have heating and most are enclosed in a front-facing housing. They get really hard to see out of too, because the salt and sand spray kicked up by the vehicle in front of you sticks to the heated glass of the mirror and collects there. Visibility in winter driving is a difficult problem but perhaps that can be improved.
Yes rural roads do not have a lot of traffic, but they are not empty.
People hated it so much they’ve had to add the knobs back.
A car maker ‘thinking about something’ doesn’t mean the solution will be good. There are tons of infotainment systems to serve as counterexamples.
And let’s not forget GM’s ‘easier’ gear shift that caused people to get run over because you couldn’t tell if it was in park.
I had ‘fun’ driving a Chrysler 200 with one of those.
I don't know how it works with "normal" trucks, but won't this mean having to get out of the vehicle to pay tolls, hand license to police, etc?
Some (most?) exits don't even have manual tolls at all, you have to go to the website and pay within 7 days if you go through one without the transponder.
Getting pulled over by an officer should (hopefully) be infrequent enough where getting out of the vehicle is not a big deal. Although, I know police officers get very nervous if you motion to get out of your vehicle (understandably) so some communication is in order.
I guess it depends a lot on where your route goes. If it's a harbor, airport or any sort of restricted area, you'll be 'pulled over' every time you enter or leave.
Weigh stations are simple, you just idle slowly over the scale plate(s) and there is an illuminated sign board ahead telling you to go, stop, or pull around for inspection. New Mexico is the only state I encountered where you actually rolled up to a trooper in a window up at your eye level and had to interact with them, but this was just to hold up a copy of your permit and they waved you through. You didn't have to speak.
And one additional thought: When evaluating a potentially disruptive technology, the opinion of veterans is important and may indicate that they won’t ever adopt the new technology in massive numbers. However veterans by definition have a lot of hard earned experience, which means they won’t see the benefits of automation and ai assistance, while people new to the field will have the benefit of not having to gain that experience to be productive. Which means that the old tech will age out as veterans retire.
Obviously things improve with time, but Tesla has never convinced me of having a robust pipeline for validating their sensors/AI projects. Everything they release feels like someone said "well, it's good enough for how much we're willing to spend." Notably, their refusal to evaluate LIDAR when every other company is banking on it.
You may have experienced fewer sensor failures than you've seen Teslas having in the news. But... you're exactly one person, and you're hearing the news about every "sensor failure" that Tesla has had in the entire world. And beyond that, a sensor failure is defined as an event that you don't experience. How many times have you only avoided death by pure chance? Tesla's "notable sensor failures" are literally an every-day occurrence for the mark-one eyeball. The semi crash you're talking about? Humans do exactly that with such regularity that the EU mandates guard rails under the beds of semi trailers.
The difference is that, for Tesla's "sensor failures", obviously things improve with time. You think that humans do the same? Our cars are better, signage and visibility technology are better, but I guarantee you that today's drivers are, in aggregate, the same dumb-ass teenagers that they have been for the last hundred years. And that's why I support Tesla. We can argue forever about whether they're safer than humans today, because driving is such a personal thing that nobody is willing to disentangle their anecdotes from data, but it is obvious that automated vehicles will be safer than humans in the near future. Possibly the very near future.
Considering every car produced by Tesla in the last two years has Autopilot, I think their pipeline is pretty great at gathering data for every car and performing tests against the data they gather.
You may also make the LIDAR think something is in front of the vehicle (when that's not true) and maybe it'll slam on the breaks? Or if you fool the sonar to make it think there's nothing in the way when there actually is, etc.
Lot's of potential here. So in addition to solving problems, sensors introduce many problems and we don't yet fully understand the extent of the problems that have been introduced.
I can't imagine not depending upon them, nor how to design something without a way to sense to be able to move through the world.
What viable alternative is there if not to use sensors to understand the world?
Yes I did, your comment would have been improved with specificity in the first place.
It doesn't even have to be as good as a human could be; it just has to be good enough given the problem space and the economic forces involved.
As the other comment suggested, Tesla doesn't have the greatest track record with these sensors, and putting 16.5 ton driving force behind that could have very lethal consequences.
I just wish Tesla was held to a higher standard of scrutiny.
Sometimes you need to reload the site without cache with Ctrl+Shift+R. uMatrix can be a bit finicky.
Tesla should just kill driving and go fully autopilot, it's insane that a human has to drive a truck from point A to B, is just a waste of time and extremely dangerous.
There are tons of conditions that even the best autonomous systems are no where near ready for.
It’s going to be a while.
Because when the autonomous systems are trained on how to handle adverse conditions, its the sum of the knowledge of all machines that build how to handle these conditions. Whereas each human has to learn it individually. And given how bad people drive even with rainstorms, I'd put the money on the computers.
And frankly, we can also discuss if "driving in rain/sleet on frozen mountain pass" is even a good idea. Because computers can also provide data like "Estimated chance of wreck is X%", and decisions can be made using that.
Tl;Dr. One machine learns and can share with all nearly instantaneously. 1 human learns and that's it.
In the long term, yes, definitely. And I am looking forward to the day.
But it is going to be a while, and it is going to be a while longer until all the politicians and insurance companies are convinced of that, too.
An "auto" will have less incidence of wrecks and drive provably safer. And the "auto" will also record everything as proof, so if there is a wreck involved, it's a simple "download and review the footage". Guilt is now easy to prove as well as trivial to exonerate.
And all of those things will bring the cost of insurance down for the insurance companies. And many of them will then lower their rates appropriately given very high standard of proof they provide.
After all, insurance is heavily based in the sciences and mathematics. If they weren't, insurance companies wouldn't last very long at all.
Now, I have no clue on how to get politicians to understand science. I'm not sure if that's even possible, as science can easily go against an ideology - and thusly their political stance.
To be honest, once autonomous driving systems become so good they are provably and reliably better than humans, insurance companies will probably charge a premium for the privilege of driving your car yourself.
I am just not sure when autopilots will become that good. OTOH, I did not expect to see self-driving cars arrive during my lifetime, and now it looks very strongly like I will. ;-)
> Now, I have no clue on how to get politicians to understand science.
Given the kind of political influence car manufactures have (at least here in Germany), I think that will not be too much of a problem once the demand is there.
So you're saying you trust code written by humans way more than humans? That doesn't make any sense.
Do you trust more your calculator when you have to perform simple operations like sums , multiplication or square root , or you trust your self with a paper and pen more?
The calculator is a board with written code by humans. Then please, do you think Space X does all their calculations by hand or base on computer simulations using well known and tested algorithms
I trust the calculator sure, but I try to always understand enough about the problem at hand to know when the numbers don't make sense - bad data, keying error, edge case, numeric overflow, wrong units, yadda yadda. Punching numbers in and blindly writing down what you get out is a recipe for disaster. When I did engineering it wasn't unusual for people to do the same calculations on an HP and a TI just to make sure - and bugs in calculators weren't unheard of.
base on computer simulations using well known and tested algorithms
SpaceX same as everyone else who actually does this, combines simulations and actual experiments. Noone flies anything built off simulations alone, and I can't see that happening for a looooong time. And even then, things still sometimes go wrong. Computers are not a magic silver bullet, they are just a tool like a spanner or a hammer.
If people get mad at uber for killing taxi, imagine how mad they will be when uber will kill taxi drivers, probably in less than 5 years. Now imagine Tesla telling us, you know what? you don't need Truck drivers anymore, which we don't. Then the rage would be ...
The road to trust could be long and bumpy.