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Self-Driving Trucks: Are Truck Drivers Out of a Job?

Updated: Feb 15

A lot has happened in the world of self-driving trucks. More companies have emerged, technologies are being tested, laws are being considered, and the date for when it will be normal to see automated trucks on the road is getting closer and closer. Many in the industry are excited about this technology because it will help improve productivity, fuel efficiency, costs, and traffic on the highways. With the trucking industry continuing to move forward, the main thing on truck drivers’ minds is the security of their jobs. Let’s take a closer look at self-driving trucks quickly becoming a reality.

Who are the Major Players?

As the tech world grows, many companies continue to invest a lot of time and money in this field. Here are a few of the most notable companies making the biggest strides towards perfecting this technology.

Self-Driving Truck


Daimler is one of the first companies to enter the field. Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Trucks, has been testing their automated truck since 2014. Daimler focuses on a combination of things including truck platooning and having a driver for safety while exiting the highway. Recently, Daimler partnered with Torc Robotics and Waymo, and they plan on bringing highly automated trucks to series production within the decade.


TuSimple is a company based in Beijing, China, and San Diego, California that operates self-driving trucks out of Tuscon, Arizona, and has over 200,000 autonomous miles of paid freight haulage. The trucks are based on camera technology rather than laser-based radar, which is what most automated trucks and cars use. The company claims that this is more efficient in detecting things on the freeway, and it is cheaper than radar technology. On December 22, 2021, TuSimple made history by becoming the world’s first to operate a fully autonomous semi-truck on open, public roads without a human on board, while naturally interacting with other motorists. However, in this current phase of development, TuSimple still requires a Class A licensed driver in the vehicle at all times known as a “driver supervisor,” along with a safety engineer in the passenger seat while operating autonomously.


Waymo is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Waymo has been testing its trucks for more than a year in California and Arizona. In March 2018, they launched trucks in Atlanta to deliver freight to different Google data centers. Each truck is equipped with a radar system to navigate the roads and a human driver in case of an emergency. In June 2022, Waymo announced a partnership with Uber Freight. Carriers that purchase trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver in the future will be able to opt into Uber Freight’s marketplace through user-friendly applications letting them seamlessly deploy their autonomous assets on the Uber Freight network.


Tesla first released its truck in November of 2017. They planned to have trucks begin to deliver in 2019. Tesla’s trucks will focus on autopilot self-driving software similar to their cars. Tesla’s autopilot is a semi-autonomous system where the acceleration, braking, and steering are controlled by a computer, with a human still at the wheel at all times. Tesla’s goal is to launch a platooning feature where automated trucks follow a single lead truck that is controlled by a driver. Tesla officially opened up its books for ordering the semi-truck back in May 2022 and should hit the streets before 2023.


Embark was founded in 2016 in San Francisco. They don’t manufacture trucks, instead, they created a self-driving system that can be integrated with Peterbilt Trucks. Their approach is to allow truck drivers to spend less time driving, which will allow them to deliver more day by day. They are working on achieving this by automating the driving process on the highway, where most of the time is spent, and letting a driver take over when they get off an exit. In February 2018, Embark managed the first coast-to-coast drive by an automated truck.

Understanding the Levels of Driving Automation

Not all autonomous trucks are made the same. With so much news surrounding autonomous trucks, understanding what each level of autonomy means can be confusing, so we’ve listed what each level means, according to SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers). They’ve described the different levels as follows: