Motor City jockeys for leading role in move to autonomous freight

The Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan is bullish on the region’s prospects for self-driving trucks. Megan Lampinen hears more

Trucking is the backbone of the US economy. In 2020, commercial trucks hauled 10.23 billion tons of freight, representing 72.5% of the total domestic tonnage shipped that year. Data from the US Department of Transportation, as of February 2021, puts the number of for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at 996,894, with 37.9 million trucks registered and used for business purposes. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of this sector, but it’s about to undergo a radical overhaul with the introduction of autonomous driving.

Spotlight on Michigan

Detroit is arguably the heart of America’s automotive industry and home to the Big Three. With a nickname like Motor City, the pressure is on to remain relevant in this era of new mobility. But Detroit, and Michigan as a whole, may find itself struggling to do so when it comes to autonomous trucking.

“The southwest of the country has become an early leader in autonomous trucking,” concedes Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan.

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