A supply chain crisis crippling US ports has been described as a “powerful opportunity” to introduce autonomous trucks to the country’s motorways.
Backlogs of thousands of containers are waiting to be offloaded from cargo ships at Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York and Savannah, Georgia.
Ports are overwhelmed because there are not enough lorry drivers to move the freight.
Now, the man who laid the groundwork for regulating autonomous technology under Barack Obama’s administration says self-driving trucks are the answer.
Former US secretary of transportation Anthony Foxx said autonomous vehicles could make faster gains on the backlogs burdening ports and causing shortages of everything from Apple chips to potatoes.
The US has a record-high shortage of about 80,000 lorry drivers, data from the American Trucking Associations shows, as reported by CNN last month.
Mr Foxx, outgoing chief policy officer at ride-hailing company Lyft, said the “easiest, fastest integration of autonomous vehicles” is on long-range trips over major roads that “are not stop-go situations”.