In the otherwise tech-friendly California the state's Senate recently passed a bill that effectively would ban driverless heavy trucks in the state, unless they carry a trained human safety operator on-board. It was then up to Governor Newsom to decide whether to veto or sign the bill.
If it had become law, it would likely bolster the trend of seeking Southern states for driverless trucking tests and pilots, just as Volvo Trucks recently did. However, it seems that the tech lobby emerged victorious in this battle, as just days ago, the Governor decided to veto the bill.
Also otherwise, the world of driverless trucking has been quite turbulent over the past year. Several early AV truck players have either ceased operations or implemented substantial cost-cutting measures, including companies like TuSimple, Locomation and Embark. Then, during the summer, AV giant Waymo announced its decision to scale down its truck operations and allocate resources toward its core of car-based ridehailing services.
Against this backdrop, it’s surprising to learn that the former management of Ford & GM-backed Argo AI (which was shut down in Oct 2022), has secured substantial funding to relaunch autonomous vehicle development, now specifically focusing on heavy trucks in a new venture called Stack.
The entire domain is also piquing the interest of US legislators. Recently many prominent industry were invited to a House Committee to discuss the Future of Autonomous Trucking and Supply Chain Impacts.