Ready or not, self-driving semi-trucks are coming to America’s highways

Perched in the cab of a 35,000-pound semi-truck lumbering south on Interstate 45, AJ Jenkins watched the road while the big rig’s steering wheel slid through his hands. Jenkins was in the driver’s seat, but he wasn’t driving. The gigantic 18-wheeler was guiding itself.

Over several miles on the popular trucking route between Dallas and Houston, the truck navigated tire debris, maneuvered around a raggedy-looking flatbed and slowed for an emergency vehicle. Exiting the highway, it came to an abrupt stop as a pickup jumped its turn at a four-way intersection.

“You need to be ready for anything,” said Jenkins, 64, a former FedEx driver whose job is to take control if anything goes wrong. “People do some crazy stuff around trucks.”

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