The Future Of Trucking Is Automation

Posted: Aug 23 2017, 12:53pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 23 2017, 1:01pm CDT, in News

 
The Future of Trucking is Automation
 

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Self-Driving Trucks are the Future of the Industry

There are hundreds of ways that advances in autonomous tech have made truck driving easier. Artificial intelligence collects input from the newest vehicle systems and assists drivers and fleet operators to develop a more efficient driving regimen.

For example, fuel consumption has always been a huge factor in the trucking industry. Not only does it cost tremendous amounts of money, but it also contributes to greenhouse gases, which has heightened the political pressure on the industry.

But a series of AI tools have been designed to economize fuel use across the industry. GPS, safety warnings, apps, cybersecurity monitors, and further safeguards have helped to make the trucking industry safer and more efficient than ever.

But the biggest advance in the trucking industry would have to be self-driving rigs. These vehicles can be operated on a strict GPS pathway with precise adherence to traffic laws. It’s an amazing development that’s intended to minimize costs and cut accidents by dramatic levels.

“If you can apply autonomous driving to the trucking industry, there’s tremendous opportunity for reducing costs and for making it easier for drivers,” Stephanie Brinley of HIS Markit explained to Trucks.com. Self-driving trucking has grown by leaps and bounds in a relatively short time, and experts are predicting a fully automated trucking industry within the next few decades.

Autonomous Trucks’ Impact on the Economy

Trucking is an expensive and fuel-consuming slice of the American economy. But it’s also the bedrock of commerce and contributes solidly to economic growth and stability. “Trucking is the physical backbone of e-commerce, and person-to-person shipments,” says Jake Medwell of Tech Crunch.

“In the U.S. alone, spending on overland logistics reached over $700 billion last year. At least $600 billion of that is FTL (full truckload), roughly half of which is private carriers and half of which is brokered freight. The rest of the market is comprised of ‘parcel’ shipping at $49 billion, LTL (less than truckload) at $35 billion, and Air at $28 billion, making trucking one of the largest single industries in the country.”

If we could make shipping by truck cheaper and more efficient, the effect on the economy would be incredible. Not only is truck driving the most common American job, but it’s also the biggest aid to commerce.

Total shipping costs would fall, deliveries would arrive on time more often, and there would be fewer risks along the way. The entire U.S. economy would enjoy a greater outlook.

Jobs Will Change, But Won’t Be Lost

The biggest concern about the mass adoption of self-driving trucks is the potential threat to jobs. Currently, more than 3.5 million truckers operate rigs in the U.S., but rather than worry about the possible elimination of their jobs, drivers focus on the way automation is making their job more efficient.

For now, truck drivers needn’t worry about their careers. Adoption of self-driving trucks will take a while, and that slow transition phase will help truckers prepare for the changes. Truckers should still train to get their commercial driver’s licenses without worrying the industry will disappear in 10 years.

Drivers with the most experience in the trucking industry and who are still willing to work hard will be rewarded with the new, better jobs to monitor rigs on the roadway. It’s vital for experienced workers in the industry to maintain their skills while looking toward the future of automation.

When different and better jobs come along, those who were ready for the shift will end up staying in the action.

Trucking Will Take Time for Adoption

Still, some in the trucking industry worry that self-driving vehicles will take over many jobs right away. But it bears repeating: More likely, the switchover will take some time. First, it may be several years before we see self-driving trucks that are capable of doing more than just closely monitored test runs.

Second, once it’s practical, mass adoption of such a revolutionary technology will not be instantaneous. The trucking industry isn’t prepared to incorporate such advanced technology into its operations.

“I don’t have a single member who’s ready to buy a bunch of automated trucks even if they could. Everything needs to be sorted out. It’s still in its infancy,” R. J. Cervantes told QZ. Cervantes owns California Trucking Association, which represents all the fleet owners in the state.

Others have expressed similar sentiments on various forums, as well as concern about the safety of adopting the driverless tech. Although some studies have shown that autonomous vehicles have the potential to substantially improve roadway safety (mass adoption of self-driving vehicles is expected to reduce accidents by 90 percent), truckers remain skeptical. It’s easier to justify a human mistake than it is to justify mechanical error, for one thing.

Although it will not be a swift transition, most experts agree it will happen eventually. One day, there will be few commercial drivers on the road, but the ones who prepare for the transformation will most likely move smoothly into their new roles.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/68" rel="author">Larry Alton</a>
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 

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