Bill green lighting semi-autonomous rigs advances

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Proposed bill or legislation generic graphic

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – New semi-autonomous vehicle technology aimed at optimizing the efficiency and safety of commercial trucks by linking them in a multi-vehicle platoon that automates functions like speeding up, slowing down and braking could be coming to Kentucky roads under a measure approved by a Senate committee today.

This legislation, known as Senate Bill 116, passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee by an 11-0 vote. It would allow platooning for commercial motor vehicle use under specified roadways, weather conditions and topography.

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Platooning refers to two or more individual commercial vehicles traveling together in sync with electronically coordinated speeds through wireless communication. Once commercial vehicles get on the road and platoon mode has been turned on, the front vehicle’s driver is in control of the speed while the following driver is able to take his or her foot off the gas pedal and stay in sync with the vehicle ahead.

Stephen Boyd, the co-founder and vice president of Peloton, a vehicle safety and automation company, testified in favor of this bill. He emphasizes that this bill does not propose self-driving vehicles, but rather driver teamwork.

While addressing platooning’s ability to increase efficiency, Boyd also spoke of the cost benefits and safety measures this technology would bring. With trucks driving directly behind one another, it greatly reduces the amount of air hitting the following vehicles leading to less fuel, ultimately reducing costs.

Automatic brakes used with platooning are able to increase safety, Boyd said, adding the reaction time of a human is two seconds, while an automatic breaking system’s is a tenth of a second.

Jason Siwula from the state Transportation Cabinet also testified in support of the bill.

“From the Transportation Cabinet’s perspective, we’re supportive of anything that increases commercial motor vehicle safety,” Siwula said.

SB 116 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

Media release from the Legislative Research Commission. 

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