Expert: Expect driverless trucks on Central Pa. highways ‘within five or six years’

Driverless trucks are coming. But where and when?

Start with where: They’ll be on interstate highways long before other roads, said Noël Perry, a transportation economist who speaks internationally — most recently this week at a conference in Indianapolis — but is based in Cornwall Township, Lebanon County.

The reason?

“There are no pedestrians, which is a big problem for automation,” Perry said. “It means that “Everybody is going in the same direction on one side of the road and the other. And there’s controlled access, so you don’t have to worry about somebody coming in and running a stop sign.”

As for when, Perry said the world won’t suddenly flip a switch and go from manual to automatic.

“You could have trucks going one after the other with a driver in front, controlling the rest,” he said. “So it’ll be a gradual thing, but we’ll start noticing it within five or six years.”