There exists much confusion about terminology when the subject of an automatic truck transmission arises.
Properly known as “automated” transmissions, these drive trains have come to prominence as the prime competition for old-style manuals. There are many different kinds of truck transmissions today.
Automatic vs. Automated
Cars use planetary-geared, fluid-controlled automatic transmissions. Trucks use a form of transmission called an “automated manual.”
Automated transmissions are internally identical to a manual, but use a series of computer-controlled servos and actuators to shift gears and engage the clutch.
Automated transmissions are almost always based on a standard truck transmission, and are no stronger or weaker than their manual counterparts.
Automated transmissions are proven performers, and are well documented to provide better acceleration than a manual.
Some types of heavy-duty automated transmissions shift automatically, but still require a driver to engage the clutch for starting and stopping.