Google and Apple’s driverless cars immediately spring to mind when you think of autonomous vehicles, but in the race to get them on the road US truck manufacturer Royal Truck and Equipment looks to have stolen pole position, announcing an unmanned truck that should be hitting the highways of Florida by the end of the year.
Florida has long been selling itself as the home of driverless cars but US residents should get too excited about putting their feet up on the way to work; this is definitely not the sort of vehicle they would want to be behind the wheel of. In fact, the truck is “literally waiting to be struck” according to Royal’s president, Robert Roy, thanks to the two crash cushions on the back of it, designed to protect construction crew who are working on the highway in front of the vehicle from dozy drivers.
Lorry mounted crash trucks are nothing new and have been used on the roads for 30 years, but when the vehicle you’re driving is basically there to get crashed into then the fewer people in it the better, which is why Royal has got rid of the driver altogether.
Safety first, but this technology isn’t going to be have Google quaking in their boots as it still requires a human-driven guide car ahead of it for the driverless vehicle to mimic its actions. But at least that means they don't have to build a whole driverless city to get them on the road...