As automation technology continues to evolve, the trucking industry is beginning to see its impact on commercial vehicles. Many experts believe that autonomous trucks will soon become a mainstay on America's roads, with drivers gradually being phased out over time. While this may seem like a scary prospect for some, there are many benefits to be reaped from autonomous trucks. In this blog post, we'll explore the potential impact of automation on the commercial trucking industry and discuss some of the pros and cons of this transformative technology.
Job losses for truck drivers
Job losses for truck drivers are a real concern, but these losses are likely to be limited in the short term. There are several factors that can contribute to job losses in the trucking industry, including changing demographics and complex supply chains. In addition, the rise of automation is a significant concern.
The use of robotics is a way to automate the role of truck drivers. Other tasks can be automated, including ensuring trucks are properly loaded. But other tasks, such as repairing flat tires, require human intervention. Truck drivers also must update logbooks and do paperwork. However, automated trucks might not significantly decrease the number of drivers in the industry.
Trucking is a vital industry in the US. According to the American Trucker Association, there are about 3.5 million professional truck drivers, supporting over 5.2 million jobs in the trucking industry. Aside from drivers, there are jobs in truck manufacturing, management, dispatch, sales, and clerical roles. Furthermore, truck drivers are the last remaining group in the US that can make a decent middle-class living without a college degree.
Automating the trucking industry could save companies hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Using self-driving trucks would eliminate the need for a driver, boosting the value of an operation by about 20 cents per mile. However, the cost savings of the trucks would be offset by the higher cost of the technology.
By 2030, it is estimated that automated trucks and technology will cut transportation and logistics costs by 47%. They would no longer require rest periods or driver-induced fatigue, enabling them to continue to serve customers around the clock, except for scheduled maintenance. The automation and digitization of commercial vehicles will merge the logistics and commercial vehicle sectors within a few years. Already, robotics are being used in last-mile logistics, electric vehicles, and distribution centers.
Several groups, including the Teamsters and labor unions, have been fighting to prevent the introduction of automated vehicles due to safety concerns. These groups argue that commercial vehicles should not be automated because it would result in the displacement of human drivers and safety issues. In addition, 29 states rank driving as the most popular job, and they would fear the loss of jobs caused by automation.
In response to these concerns, the FMCSA is developing guidelines and guidance for vehicles with Level 4 or higher ADS or ODD. These guidelines are intended to assist and educate the industry on these emerging technologies.
Connectivity plays a key role in the development of autonomous commercial vehicles. It is also one of the key enablers of B2C business and automakers are taking advantage of this trend to deliver the most complete set of services over the vehicle's lifetime. Deep machine learning and AI are driving these developments. Different HMI options are also enabling drivers to interact with their vehicles in more meaningful ways. Telematics, which was once an OEM cost-saving strategy, has been transformed into a potential money-spinning opportunity in the context of connected vehicles.
While AVs are still very new, they are already showing benefits to traffic flows and road capacity. This is partly because they increase vehicle speed and reduce traffic volumes. These benefits are magnified as the penetration rate of AVs increases. For example, at 100% penetration, AVs are responsible for a 17% reduction in travel time and a 31% reduction in delays. Vehicle speeds also increase, which reduces driving time and delays. Nevertheless, it is not yet clear what the long-term impact of AVs will be.
Automation in commercial vehicles will increase highway capacity in a variety of ways. In one scenario, the use of AVs continuously could increase highway capacity by as much as 40%. The increase would be gradual, with the benefit increasing with increasing AV penetration.
There is a large range of possible road capacity impacts that researchers are investigating. The study uses different simulations to assess the impact of different levels of automation. It also considers conflicting points in the traffic flow. In addition, the model incorporates a road element that is specific to the simulation. Researchers are currently analyzing various planning models that help them investigate the impact of fully automated vehicles on road capacity.
With the advent of automation in commercial vehicles, it’s important that we consider the implications this has for both drivers and passengers. We’ve seen how driverless cars are changing the landscape for transportation, and it’s only a matter of time before autonomous trucks are on our roads as well. As the development of this technology continues commercial vehicle operators need to be aware of the changes that are happening in the industry so they can stay ahead of the curve and keep their businesses running smoothly.