One idea is a hub-to-hub model where one assumes the existence of transfer hubs on highways so the autonomy is only concerned with driving the truck on the highways between such hubs. The first and last mile of the trailers would be done by local drivers…
Some companies such as Starsky Robotics, have suggested a tele-driving model. Following the model of AV drone operations, the notion is that one can remotely provide human intelligence, but with the explicit requirement of connectivity.
Another model is to build autonomous convoys. In this model, a human is the leader and the follower trucks have the much simpler task to “just follow the lead truck…”
“With this economic model, trucks can be operated for up to 22 hours/day, increasing asset utilization by up to 3X to >90%, “ says Cetin Mericli, CEO of Locomation, one of the leading providers for such a solution.
Finally, one can certainly envision the equivalent of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) for trucks. In this case, trucks are equipped with technology for forward collision warnings and mitigation, emergency braking, and even “manual” platooning.