Trucks will someday drive themselves out of warehouses and cruise down freeways without the aid of humans or even a driver’s cab—about that there seems little disagreement. The question is how soon that day gets here.
And while the answers vary—technologists, not surprisingly, are more bullish than truckers—billions of dollars and a growing parade of companies, from tiny start-ups to the country’s biggest trucking operations, are betting it will be here sooner than most people think.
This year, companies and investors are on pace to put just over $1 billion into self-driving and other trucking technologies, 10 times the level of three years ago, according to CB Insights, which tracks the venture capital industry.
And unlike autonomous cars, which face questions about navigating chaotic urban streets, trucks spend a lot of time heading straight on desolate highways. And while the advent of the self-driving car will rest on the decisions of individual consumers, logistics companies are unemotional operators that will upgrade their fleets the moment it makes financial sense.
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