According to recent reports, self-driving big-rig trucks may be coming soon on interstate highways across Texas. Waymo, the self-driving division of Google parent Alphabet, recently announced that they are about to start dispatching mapping minivans, to be followed by large trucks, along Interstates 10, 20, and 45 and through metropolitan areas, including Houston, El Paso, and Dallas. The company reports that they have already mapped and tested their self-driving big-rigs in Arizona, California, and Georgia. Waymo is best known for its self-driving ride-hailing minivan service in suburbs surrounding Phoenix. The latest initiative is part of the company’s ultimate vision to replace human drivers with self-driving tractor trailers controlled by sensors and computers.
During the testing phase, none of the trucks will be hauling freight. A standby driver will also be on board in case of an emergency. Competitors such as Uber have also tested self-driving big-rigs. Tesla is also reportedly in the process of developing an electric semi that will likely include self-driving capability. Waymo reports that it stands out among its competitors because of its early start on testing which began in 2009. Despite the company’s early start, Waymo has a considerable amount of testing to complete before the initiative is fully launched. For example, testing will need to be performed on a fully loaded tractor trailer due to important differences in stopping distances, driving speeds, and maneuvering characteristics. Although it may takes years before Waymo’s initiative is fully launched, it does raise questions regarding who will ultimately be held responsible if a self-driving tractor trailer is involved in an accident.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an 18-wheeler accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.