Automating the Trucking Industry

* See below for today's first segmentWhen "Politicizing" a Tragedy is Wrong.

Electric, driverless, and coming.

Automating the Trucking Industry: [Updated Dec. 12, 2020] Bob Enyart reports briefly on the continuing automation of transportation in air and on land and water. (If you recollect when Bob first spoke of the painful change coming soon, even by 2020, for many truck drivers, please send along that show link to Thanks!)

Post-Show Updates:
- 2020: In December two railroads, Union Pacific and Canadian National invested heavily in automated trucking firm TuSimple.
- 2020: The billion-dollar TuSimple firm brings to customers such as the USPS, UPS, and Amazon, technology that enables their trucks to travel even in the rain at night with 20 driving "decisions" per second. Their Tuscon depot tests $12 million worth of self-driving semis with forward-looking vision systems that can "see" a half-mile down the road and eliminate the entire categories of accidents such as overly tired, texting/distracted driving, and drunk driving.
- 2020: NACFE, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, now tracks autonomous trucking issues. (Maybe they follow RSR! :)
- 2019: CBS News reports the milestone when Starsky Robotics' autonomous truck drove in the right lane on the Florida turnpike with 35,000 pounds of steel down a busy highway with nobody behind the wheel, the first time a load was delivered over an open highway without a human on board.
- 2019: Penske joins automation public education alliance
- 2018: Among the 60 companies currently testing automated cars in California, Google's Waymo is now testing fully-automated cars, with no backup human drivers onboard, in various municipalities.
- 2017: Upstart Embark unveils it's self-driving truck technology on Nevada's open roads.
- Truckers worrying say they do a lot besides just driving.
- Driverless delivery pods (see image, right) announced and Berkshire Hathaway's Business Wire reports a $60 million-dollar infusion into Peloton Technology's driverless trucking effort to improve fuel efficiency and safety. Elon Musk announces a September unveiling of Tesla's automated freight truck.
- The U.S. Army, after a year of preliminary tests, is ready to begin fully-automated trials on Michigan highways including the Blue Water Bridge to evaluate the system's capabilities on a steel girder bridge. This CBS Detroit report does not mention military convoys but of course convoys especially lend themselves to early adoption of automated driving.
- 2016: Uber, the car ride company, eyeing the $700 billion dollar-a-year trucking industry, has purchased the automation firm Otto. This business plans to retrofit big rigs for driverless operation for only $30,000 each, or just 25% of the cost to employ a driver for a single year. Meanwhile, Google (Alphabet) is suing Uber/Otto for theft of it's self-driving technology.   
- Budweiser makes first automated beer delivery, 120 miles without a driver in the front seat, from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs, but just out of reach of the RSR studio.
- After an Otto truck autonomously drove 35 miles through central Ohio, the U.S. government, without giving a timeline, suggested that those in the transportation industry prepare for the eventual loss of at least 80% of all truck driving jobs.

Pre-2016 Flashbacks, Etc:
- 2015: The first automated semi-truck road test occurred on 5/5/15 while that year 4,050 large trucks were involved fatal crashes killed 4,067 people.
- 2012: Out of almost 330,000 large-truck involved crashes in the U.S., just over 3,800 were fatal and killed nearly 4,000 people that year. (While of course the statistics vary year to year, for a rough breakdown, about 70% of deaths are of those in passenger vehicles, 15 percent are pedestrians and bikers, and 15% are those in the trucks. Of course, the truckers share in the responsibility for only a portion of these crashes.
- 2011: Number of large truck crashes and resulting deaths begins to increase after previous decline. (BEL: The increase could be related to increasing decriminalization of pot and to deteriorating U.S. infrastructure.)  
- 1979: Large-truck involved crashes reached their peak and killed 6,431 people, mostly in passenger cars.

Non-Trucking Automation News:
- 2019: "...taking over farms faster than anyone saw coming."
- 2017: Tesla unveils its electric semi ("maintains 65 mph uphill").
- Michigan's autonomous Motor City is Ann Arbor (just avoid the Victory Inn).
- BMW to deliver driverless car by 2021.
- Daimler is working with Uber on self-driving technology and Daimler and Bosh plan to deliver driverless taxis by 2023.
- Ford plans to deliver market-ready autonomous cars in 2020.
- Automotive News reports that Mercedes Benz is now conducting daily tests on five auto-driving vans.
- Boeing is moving toward automated airliners that need no pilots.
- 2015: In view of automated cargo flights, pilotless plane flies alongside commercial jetliner for three hours. 
- Mercedes introduces the F 015 concept car.

* Regarding Amber Alerts, Etc. Having millions of self-driving cars and trucks, and quasi-self-driving cars on the road will sometimes bring about the immediate location of an abducted child for whom an Amber Alert with license plate number has been issued. NBC reports in 2017 that the CEO of processor manufacturer Intel is proposing ways to address privacy concerns raised by car and truck awareness. Here at KGOV, we don't believe that there is a right to anonymity. We also recognize that such technological developments will be a great help to law enforcement trying to rescue abducted children, identify rapists, and capture murderers. Might there be abuse? Of course. There is abuse of everything. The paranoid and those doing wrong will be most fearful.

When Politicizing a Tragedy is Wrong: Bob also reports on the sad case of the 43-year old woman who attempted suicide in the Chicago office of a liberal U.S. Congressman who used the occasion of her self-immolation to call for even more government health care spending. So, the question is, When is it wrong to "politicize" a tragedy? Finally, Bob discusses a heart-wrenching email he received from an out-of-state listener who has just begun her freshman year at a leading research university.