Revolution in the Trucking Industry

Automated truck on the highway

Just like cash to cashless wallets, the world is moving from the driver to driverless vehicles. Artificial Intelligence has already been popular around the globe, and now it’s making its way in the automotive industry. Self-driving trucks or autonomous trucks are already rolling out around the world. They had successfully made deliveries in Australia, Rio, California, Nevada, and Colorado in 2016, and 2017 respectively. Many companies around the globe are already working on self-driving trucks.

Logistics companies are now embracing vehicle intelligence, and are moving steadily towards full automation. Self-driving trucks are said to reduce operating costs, traffic congestion, and accidents. Apart from this, they also help drivers’ pinpoint economic routes. The features and capacities of these autonomous trucks range widely, from simple driver assistance to complete autopilot mode that involves little or no human intervention.

Besides being used in self-driving vehicles, AI can be employed in many other applications in the trucking business. For instance, AI can be used for predictive maintenance (based on historical data, it will anticipate the likelihood that certain parts will fail before the problem occurs). Apart from this, it can also be used for hyper-precise mapping to spot accurate locations for delivering goods.

In 2017, Tesla patented an electric semi-truck, which will hit the highways in 2020. Then in 2018, Apple filed patents for its own self-driving vehicles called “Peloton.” While TuSimple is already supplying autonomous vehicles to shipping ports. The market for self-driving trucks on the highways is going to increase enormously.

7 reasons why self-driving trucks are making their way ahead of self-driving cars:

  1. Autonomous trucks are making their way ahead of the cars because these long-haul trucks are mostly used on highways.
  2. Programming advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS) for trucks is much easier than cars, as they don’t have to cope with the complexities of a city.
  3. Autonomous vehicles need to stay within their lane, monitor speed, and keep a safe distance from other travellers and potential obstacles.
  4. Self-driving trucks will offer drivers a breathing space and save companies up to 14% on fuel.
  5. According to reports, only one driver will be needed to head a convoy of up to six trucks. This eliminates both the need and cost of AC, heating and even windshield wipers.
  6. The lead driver will be able to take regular breaks, thereby preventing exhaustion-related accidents. This will eventually result in lesser accidents and safer roads for everyone.
  7. Autonomous trucks will significantly be able to reduce traffic congestion by following the most optimal routes via live maps.

Vera an autonomous vehicle

Vera is one of the best examples of autonomous vehicles; it forms part of a more extensive system. It can transport large volumes of goods. The technology used enables round-the-clock operations. It is an electric vehicle that causes a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and noise levels. Each vehicle is connected to a transport control centre via cloud-based service, and are continuously monitored and optimized for the logistics flow.

How does the technology work?

Self-driving trucks are grouped into a convoy and are connected via Wi-Fi and automated driving systems. These vehicles mechanically maintain a measured, close distance between each other, which reduces wind resistance and fuel costs and enables them to turn, speed up and brake simultaneously.

Then there is a combination of sensors, blind-spot detection, collision-prevention technologies, and human-machine interfacing that help trucks get information and awareness on the road.

Impact of Self-driving Trucks on Trucking Industry?

According to an estimation by Morgan Stanley, the savings of automated freight delivery would be a whopping $168 billion per year in saved fuel, reduced labour costs, increased productivity and equipment utilization, and fewer accidents. This means switching to self-driving trucks will not only save billions, but also it will save thousands of lives.

How about the truck driver?

However, the automation of the transport industry will impact truck drivers or truckers significantly. Most drivers will be out of a job. Many truckers have begun to realize that more and more automation will eventually shrink total employment. However, some may be reskilled by their companies. This includes training drivers as lead platoon drivers, administrative personnel, or tugboat operators (which include driving automated trucks to a warehouse for service or storage from docking station).

Those who have other options will leave the trucking industry. And the ones who have no clue can adopt technology and learn digital skillsets to earn their livelihood. Undoubtedly, driving a truck is physically slothful and psychologically exhausting.

When are autonomous trucks expected to hit the road?

Well, many mining companies, including Suncor, have already utilizing autonomous trucks. Many companies have already started manufacturing self-driving trucks at a larger scale. We are expected to see self-driving trucks hauling freight on our highways between 2020 – 2030. Many companies are already embracing technology!

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