Few are aware that driverless 18-wheelers are already on the road. The test runs on highways have humans in them just in case sensors or computers fail, but an autonomous trucking executive says by next year, they won’t. The future of freight on America’s roads can be a driverless one, this executive says. And that’s news to many, especially the truck drivers who stand to lose their livelihoods. 60 Minutes cameras ride aboard a test run and Jon Wertheim reports on the potential disruption to a storied American industry on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, March 15 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
“We believe we’ll be able to do our first driver-out demonstration runs on public highways in 2021,” says Chuck Price, chief product officer at TuSimple, an autonomous trucking firm with operations in the U.S. and China. With a proving ground in Arizona, TuSimple is one of several firms hoping to make billions in an industry that moves over 70% of the nation’s goods
Sensors, cameras and radar devices affixed to the rig feed data to the artificial intelligence-driven supercomputer that controls the truck. Price says his product is superior to others. “Our system can see farther than any other autonomous system in the world. We can see forward over a half-mile… day, night and in the rain. And in the rain at night,” he says.