Autonomous vehicles are referred to by a couple of different terms, including pilotless, driverless, and unmanned. Grouped together, these vehicles are programmed to drive themselves from point A to point B with little to no human interaction.
Autonomous vehicles generally refer to land vehicles, but as technology moves forward, more air-based vehicles such as drones will work autonomously as well.
One of the issues with the middle part of the United States reaching into Canada is the lack of north-south avenues to move commerce. Rail moves east to west. Most of our major roads move east to west as well. So the challenge is to find ways to better utilize our north-south routes.
The Central North American Trade Corridor Association wants to embrace emerging technologies to facilitate better use of existing roadways as well as airspace. The Autonomous Friendly Corridor would be such a space, allowing someone to program a vehicle in Texas to deliver goods to Minot, North Dakota.
Here is an example of how it would work: An autonomous vehicle gets instructions and departs to a destination. The vehicle can stop at any of the established “Land Ports” along the corridor. Fueling stations, cargo disbursement, and vehicle service are some of the functions that will be available at Land Ports. The vehicle arrives at the destination, cargo is removed, new cargo is loaded and the vehicle is given a new job.
The corridor will also be available for drones designed for commerce. Areas for drones to land will be available at the Land Ports. Support services for drones will also be available.
Autonomous vehicles will make much better use of our current infrastructure. With the shortage of long haul drivers, safety concerns, and scheduling issues, autonomous vehicles seem like a logical choice.
Someday in the future, this will be commonplace. Let's set the standard and allow this technology to flourish in a way that will have a direct economic impact in our region.