The port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is planning on doing some live experiments with self-driving trucks on public roads this April. The intent is that these vehicles could begin delivering goods to other Dutch cities within five years.
(Self-driving trucks working in Rotterdam)
The Netherlands is reviewing traffic laws to make large-scale testing of the technology possible on public roads, Infrastructure and Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen wrote to parliament in a letter outlining the plan.
Initial testing would start on computer simulations and the trucks will be tested on a closed track before ultimately driving out on public roads, her letter said.
"We really want to seek out international partners to see what we can do in this field," said Marianne Wuite, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. "There are countless benefits. Self-driving cars need less space and therefore use asphalt more efficiently, they avert traffic jams and reduce accidents. They are also more environmentally friendly."
Science fiction fans are not shocked by this development, having been prepared for this exact scenario (albeit, in a space port, but you are reading sf, after all) by reading about the electrotrucks in The Corkscrew of Space by Poul Anderson in 1956:
As he watched, [the spacecraft] entered its cradle and was wheeled off toward the waiting electrotrucks. Unloading began immediately; the trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles toward the warehouses.
Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'