Google Car Is A Toy, But Self-Driving Trucks Could Change The World

Semi-truck driving seems like exactly the kind of repetitive, yet awareness-intensive activity that robots were born to bear the burden of. Why bother with a self-driving PowerWheels koala bear when 'bots could be taking the efficiency of ground transport to a whole new level?

I concede there are some obvious issues with autonomous semi-trucks; More weight equals more danger. Trucker's unions. Resistance from the public to share the road with giant robots.

The Google Car, where "car" means "a golf-cart with a body kit," shuttles two people and no luggage at a blistering 25 MPH with no driver input. Impressive, but as some have already pointed out driving a car isn't really that big a tax on the average person's life.

What are you really gonna do in there if you're not driving anyway? Finish that novel? Get a start on the day's work? No, you're going to dick around on Facebook and scroll Twitter until your thumb's calloused.

But autonomous semi-trucks could do wonders for the transportation infrastructure, make things move faster, speed up the exchange of goods. Twenty-four hour operation, strict adherence to regulation, and maximization of fuel economy are the first benefits that come to my mind.

Does anyone else think the autonomous vehicle initiative should be focused on long-range commercial haulers? What are the consequences I'm missing, and why hasn't this been a big part of the conversation surrounding self-driving vehicles yet?

Image: Maximum Overdrive