Driverless Trucks and the Future of Autonomous Technologies
January 15, 2020
Autonomous cars and trucks are expected to transform the logistics industry, and many freight forwarders are willing to use autonomous technologies for shipping and other logistics processes. The main reason is that businesses are increasingly faced with a demand for quicker deliveries coupled with a high labor shortage. Experts also estimate that the use of autonomous vehicles will reduce shipping costs by 45 percent.
What the Near Future Holds in Store
Industry experts point to the fact that fully autonomous vehicles will not be available for 50 years or even longer. Semi-autonomous vehicles will only help drivers to avoid traffic accidents in the event of emergency by calculating and suggesting safe maneuvers. In fact, experts explain that in the near future, truck drivers will perform tasks that are similar in nature to the responsibilities of first officers. They will only take control of the vehicle in severe weather conditions and other emergencies. Experts warn, however, that automation will result in a lower demand for manual laborers, truck mechanics, and fleet dispatchers.
Levels of Automation
Driver assistance is the first level of automation whereby the vehicle assists the driver with one function only. The next level is partial automation or automation of functions such as deceleration and acceleration and steering. Conditional automation is the third level whereby the vehicle is in control of all safety functions while the driver takes over in tough situations such as bad weather and heavy traffic. With high automation, the driver is present to monitor traffic conditions while the vehicle performs all functions. Full automation is the last stage where advanced vehicles will perform all functions regardless of weather and traffic conditions.
It should be noted that automation is not limited to TuSimple, Tesla, and Peloton. In fact, different truck and car manufacturers are developing autonomous vehicles, among which Volvo, Peterbilt, and Daimler.
While more advanced systems are required to transition to full automation, there are other challenges and issues to address. The introduction and large-scale use of autonomous trucks necessitates the adoption of new legislation and legislative changes as well as regulatory approval. There are additional challenges to overcome, including insurance covers, adoption of rules for autonomous testing, the definition of an autonomous vehicle, etc.
While full automation will need to wait for several decades, businesses are heavily investing in advanced technologies for the logistics and shipping sectors. Different technologies are under development, from battery-powered ships and robot trucks to automated propulsion and navigation systems and unmanned ships. Technological advancement helps avoid accidents and make roads safer, reduce costs for shipping companies, and make vehicles more environmentally friendly. The ultimate goal is to improve sustainability, efficiency, and road safety. Since international freight forwarding businesses are dependable on profits, experts predict that autonomous vehicles will eventually become fully available. Automation systems are also developed and used in the warehousing sector and assist manual laborers in the processes of storage and distribution for improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness.