Assembling the Autonomous Truck

That means truck makers and Tier 1 suppliers first will need to develop and mass produce those redundant components, and that won’t happen overnight.

The task of developing and deploying Level 4 trucks also will require a major leap forward from the Level 2 driver-assist capabilities entering the market today. The latest advanced driver assist systems, which now incorporate automated braking, acceleration and steering functions, still require the driver to remain actively engaged at all times.

Krafcik said highly automated Level 4 systems will not simply evolve from today’s driver-assist systems.

“There is really no path from L2 to L4,” he said. “There’s a huge chasm. It’s a completely different development mindset.”

Safety, of course, will be paramount to any successful rollout of self-driving trucks.

“We will not release a vehicle for Level 4 operation until we are absolutely convinced that it is safe to operate,” said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America.