Freight fleets continue to pilot the use of self-driving trucks, typically using them to haul loads over highway routes before handing them off to human drivers for last-mile delivery.
But what happens when police officers or fire fighters need to flag down a driverless truck for traffic stops or safety reasons? The San Francisco-based autonomous driving tech provider Embark Trucks Inc. says it’s working on an answer.
The company recently announced that it has partnered with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop an “emergency vehicle interaction capability” for Embark-powered autonomous trucks to identify, stop for, and interface with law-enforcement vehicles … all without a driver behind the wheel.
As part of the effort, the company is training its trucks to identify emergency vehicle lights and other cues to slow down and pull over onto the highway shoulder in accordance with law-enforcement requests. It is also developing a procedure that would enable any officer to safely stop, approach, and receive information from an autonomous truck without any additional equipment. The company says that could mean outfitting Embark trucks with clear visual cues that let law-enforcement personnel know the vehicle is autonomous and providing a lockbox containing vehicle and load information (such as registration and bills of lading) as well as contact information so officers can reach a live operator.
And if you’re curious about the project’s timeline, Embark says it plans to publicly demonstrate the emergency vehicle interaction capability later this summer.