Autonomous trucking is, in reality, far off, as regulations and improvements to infrastructure are a priority. But it is coming. And it’s important for fleet owners to start thinking about what ground work they can lay so they’re able to quickly take advantage of the efficiencies and revenue opportunities autonomous trucking will offer when it’s here.
With all the noise around autonomous trucking, it’s difficult to understand where the most immediate opportunities lie. I came across a report from Accenture that does a particularly good job of cutting through that noise – AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Plotting a Route to the Driverless Future.
It breaks down future impact for three industries, one of which is logistics. As Accenture outlines, the shift to digital commerce has been great for consumers, but hard on transportation companies. Shippers don’t want to pass the costs associated with fast shipping on to consumers, which means carriers are getting squeezed and must manage their fleets ever more effectively.
With all the advancements in technology, LiDAR, sensors, camera systems, data processing, streaming and “Vehicle to X” (Vehicle to Everything) are all becoming more affordable, putting us one step closer to autonomous trucking, which could eliminate some of the overhead carriers’ have.
While we wait for that, there are impactful initiatives carriers and fleets need to master now to prepare themselves to incorporate autonomous trucks into their fleet. The biggest is investing in a connected workflow and fleet tracking.
The connected workflow brings together disparate sets of activity and data across different channels to drive business priorities. Today, it’s a way to empower drivers by connecting them directly with the back office – giving them the ability to develop safe driving habits, predict traffic, platoon and more – as well as equipping dispatchers, compliance officers, fleet managers and maintenance service professionals with tools to find greater efficiencies within vehicles and overall workflow.
Connecting various technologies to create this “ecosystem” is the first step toward the future of autonomous trucks. And fleets that are already equipped with fleet tracking software have a head start to a truly connected future, one where trucks not only pass information with each other and with the back office, but are also connected with the streets and highways they travel on.
As Accenture says, “some will find themselves disrupted; others will find new opportunities for growth and innovation.” Do yourself a favor, and get smart on this now so you’ll be in the latter category. Here are a few other resources worth reading on the topic:
- How Today’s Technology is Keeping Our Drivers and Highways Safer, written by our own Sid Nair for Guardian Magazine
- Autonomous Trucking: Fiction or Reality?
- How Fleets Can Efficiently Navigate Smart Cities
- Emerging Technology in the Trucking Industry