Because these arguments have forced a public debate, the truck and trailer combinations of freight forwarders today are at least allowed to travel in groups on freeways. Preparations for the next level of automation are now in full swing. In Western countries, nearly one in three new vehicles is delivered with Level 4 automation technology, where drivers are still on board, but like Hannah Meier, can opt to hand over control of the vehicle for most of the journey.
On her trip to Turin, Meier is doing her homework for her distance learning course in logistics. She describes the way in which automated driving has taken hold in the field of freight transportation. Naturally, it all began with research. The first road tests took place on the A81 between the cities of Stuttgart and Singen in the 1990s. Twenty years later, commercial vehicle manufacturers and startups in the United States took advantage of the latitude offered by local laws, which allowed self-certification but at the cost of much greater risks in product liability. Once automation technology had shown what it could do in a research environment, manufacturers took this knowledge to the public roads.