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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Autonomous Truck  
  A truck that drives itself and unloads itself.  

The truck was massive, rumbling under its tightly packed load. In many ways, it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin. The horizontal surface was a loading stage, and the part that would normally be the headlights and radiator grill was a fibrous spongelike mass of receptors, the limited sensory apparatus of this mobile utility extension.

Aware of the three men, the truck slowed to a halt, shifted gears and pulled on its emergency brake. A moment passed as relays moved into action; then a portion of the loading surface tilted and a cascade of heavy cartons spilled down onto the roadway. With the objects fluttered a detailed inventory sheet.

The truck had begun to move away; abruptly it stopped and backed toward them. Its receptors had taken in the fact that the three men had demolished the dropped-off portion of the load. It spun in a grinding half circle and came around to face its receptor bank in their direction. Up went its antenna; it had begun communicating with the factory. Instructions were on the way.

From Autofac, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Galaxy in 1955
Additional resources -

Here's a look at the illustration that accompanied the original story:


(Autonomous truck from Autofac)

Compare to the electrotruck from The Corkscrew of Space (1956) by Poul Anderson, the tractatruck from The Moon is Hell (1950) by John Campbell and the automatic truck from Mechnocracy (1932) by Miles J. Breurer.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Autofac
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Autofac
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Autonomous Truck-related news articles:
  - Embark Autonomous Trucks Still Need Humans

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