The Future of The Trucking Industry
The future of the trucking industry is a future where trucks operate autonomously with no drivers in the cabin and autonomous truck logistics officers operate, optimize and manage the fleets.
Fully autonomous truck platoons that do not rely on driver intervention to change lanes or join a platoon will revolutionize the trucking industry while improving safety and optimizing the efficiency of the fleet.
Autonomous truck platoons will reduce accidents caused by human error, improve efficiencies on the roadways, lower the costs related to transporting goods and create a new job category — Autonomous Truck Logistics Officers.
Today the largest cost related to transporting goods is labor. The cost of labor accounts for one-third of the total operating costs for each truck in a fleet. As autonomous truck technology advances towards Level 4 autonomy, labor costs will decrease as the role of the truck driver will evolve into an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer.
An Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will be an individual with a unique skill set who can remotely manage and optimize a fleet of autonomous trucks in select regions in real-time. The new job of an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will assist truck operators in optimizing the business of logistics — the delivery of goods to warehouses.
While the Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer focuses on logistics, the autonomous truck is focused solely driving and safety. An autonomous truck has a reaction time of just one tenth of a second, compared to a driver with a reaction time of 1.4 seconds. This lightning fast reaction time allows for trucks to platoon as close as 50 feet compared to the recommended 150 feet with a driver.
When the trucks are platooned together there is an increased fuel efficiency which can be as efficient as 10% and increase of 50% space on the roadway which will lead to increased efficiency in terms of time spent traveling on a roadway.
In 2014, trucks (single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more) traveled 109,301,000,000 miles in the U.S. with the average age of a truck being 11.4 years old.
As trucks that are in use today age and technology advances, the trucking industry can start to prepare for the great migration to autonomous trucks which will take place between 2020 and 2025.
The great migration will happen between 2020 and 2025 as the technology will have advanced far enough to the point where having a human driver behind the wheel is no longer the safest option.
Regulations on both State and Federal levels will have caught up to the technology and Level 4 autonomous trucks will be operating on public roadways.
While we are still a few years away from 2020, companies that own and operate large fleets of trucks can start the transition to semi-autonomous trucks with Daimler’s Freightliner which is approved to operate on public roadways or by waiting for OTTO to begin selling their unique self-driving kit for trucks.