Although humans have their doubts about computers driving on our highways, fully autonomous trucking will happen within the next two decades. How will it play out is the question. The technology to make this happen is already here but road worthiness will likely occur in stages. A gradual adoption strategy eases the public concerns and helps to navigate regulatory obstacles, with each wave, or progression in automation reducing operating costs for motor carriers, according to business consultants McKinsey & Co.

We are talking huge savings in operating costs in the tune of a 40 percent increase in trucking profits by 2030. To understand how to get there, take a look at how this technological advance could likely roll out on American roadways.

While almost every manufacturer is working on proprietary software and hardware for autonomous driving, platooning will be the key to all the manufacturers working together. Platooning connects trucks through a dedicated network for a host of functions like automatic braking and synchronous lane changing. This could allow fewer drivers to operate multiple vehicles and possibly overcome the more than 174,000 driver shortfall that is expected to plague the industry by 2026.