July 22, 2023

Making autonomous trucks bypass weigh stations

Kodiak Robotics is piloting the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) enhanced inspections program, which allows autonomous trucks to bypass roadside inspections.

The CVSA in September agreed in September to streamline interactions between autonomous trucks and law enforcement at fixed inspection sites. It allows middle-mile driverless trucks to use onboard software to avoid weigh station stops.

Conducting an enhanced inspection requires a CVSA-certified inspector to complete a 40-hour CVSA training course and pass a corresponding exam. The pre-clear inspections are valid for 24 hours. So, an autonomous truck running 20-22 hours a day would need a new inspection daily. Without bypass software, a typical truck would be subject to weigh station inspections.

Communicating CVSA inspection results — without stopping

Autonomous trucks would communicate the outcome of the inspection and other relevant safety information to roadside enforcement officers.

Kodiak, working with connected truck services provider Drivewyze, has conducted about 200 tests of the bypass system in Texas, the only state where authorities are testing the system, according to Daniel Goff, Kodiak head of external affairs. It has worked with Drivewyze for several years and has four company trucks equipped for the testing.

Kodiak is working with regulators and Drivewyze to expand the pilot program to other states. 

“To maximize future adoption, it is important that state agencies continue to leverage their existing roadside systems to meet the needs of the emerging AV market,” Brian Heath, CEO of Drivewyze, said in a news release.

Goff said autonomous trucks cannot expect special treatment. But they should be able to take advantage of the same time-saving systems as human-driven trucks.

No ‘special snowflakes’

“We can’t ask the cops to let us be such special snowflakes that there’s a process other than if somebody wants to pull us over, they can pull us over,” he said.

Miranda Leadbeater, Drivewyze product manager, told FreightWaves the inspection system closely mirrors her company’s approach with traditional trucks.

“The in-station inspector interface for weigh station bypass was modified to be able to collect additional autonomous vehicle data to process against the new set of autonomous vehicle bypass rules,” she said.

Tackling issues like roadside inspections is important as autonomous trucks close in on running commercial routes without anyone in the cab.

“Something like 99% of the FMVSRs [federal motor vehicle safety regulations] and trucking regulations make sense for AV trucks,” Goff said. “There are just these handful of issues to be unified and inspections are on the list.”

Said Kodiak CEO and co-founder Don Burnette: “This program shows how law enforcement and autonomous vehicle developers can partner to ensure extremely high safety and maintenance standards for self-driving trucks.”

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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