A truck without a driver is already being tested on a public road in Sweden by start-up Einride. The company began operating the electric truck on a short stretch of road in a transport hub in the heart of Scandinavia last week. Einride said the trial, which is due to run until the end of 2020, ‘is the first time a fully self-driving truck without a backup driver has been allowed on a public road.’ The “T-Pod” truck is supervised remotely by an operator who can take control if necessary. The 26-ton truck is equipped with cameras, radars and 3D sensors, which give it 360-degree awareness of its surroundings. It uses an autonomous driving platform made by NVIDIA (NVDA), and its systems are connected via a 5G network.
This is not the only commendable achievement of the industry. A quiet technological revolution has already been underway in the truck booking sector — one that everyone relies on to get their goods transported from one corner of the country to another. Both the offline and online trucking industry is basically that silent warrior who keeps the engine of the economy running.
Here are some of the major technologies that have been driving the growth of truck booking industry –
“I think it’s just going to become normal. Like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just come to the floor that you’re at, you just press the button. Nobody needs to operate the elevator. The car is just going to be like that.” –Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer and Product Architect, Tesla Motors
Elon Musk is right, as already evidenced by the launch of the autonomous truck. We have all been part of the hysteria surrounding EVs (electric vehicles) and AVs (autonomous vehicles), except, neither are fiction anymore. Tell someone a decade or two ago about these possibilities, and they would have dismissed it for a fable, but today it is these revolutionary technologies that are going to change the trucking industry, forever.
What exactly is a driverless or autonomous vehicle? It is operated by millimetre-wave radars, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, lidar scanners, GPS technology, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity, and proprietary algorithms working together to perform the task of driving under different, dynamic conditions.
The impact of this technology can be huge. From reduction in road congestion, to drop in vehicle-related accidents, dealing with shortage of drivers, and more, wide-scale adoption of this technology will immensely benefit the sector. Not to mention, it will also remain shielded from the uncertainties of the labour as well as fuel market.
2.Internet of Things
We are only at the beginning of the IoT revolution, but deployments of this technology have already gone up in the past few years. The trucking industry is not far behind on that count. Everything the industry does will eventually be interconnected to a smart system, whose main purpose would be to optimize use of resources and generate information to improve future usage. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. When it comes to trucking, with the right IoT solution in place, enterprises can connect all devices across a centralized cloud network, capture and share their project-critical data, allowing them to gain real-time visibility of their truck booking operations.
So, for instance, it can help tackle difficult operational questions, monitor the status of assets, parcels, and people in real time, measure the performance of these assets, automate business processes to eliminate manual interventions, improve quality and lower costs. Ultimately, all these analytics can be applied to the entire value chain to implement best practices and improve efficiency of the system.
Truck platooning has immense potential to make road transport safer, cleaner and more efficient in the future. Platoons are basically trucking rigs arranged into formations, which are controlled by computers that communicate with one another, and follow closely behind other trucks in their fleet.
Platooning results in lower fuel consumption, as trucks drive closer together at a constant speed, with less braking and accelerating. With conventional trucks, risk factors are driver reaction time and concentration. And there is proof. Some 90% of all traffic accidents are due to human error. Truck platooning will help improve safety because with connected driving, braking will be automatic, with virtually zero reaction time compared to human braking. Allowing for more predictive driving of trucks, platooning will also improve safety for other road users.
Truck platooning also optimises supply chain by using roads more effectively, helping deliver goods faster and reducing traffic jams. This can make logistics more efficient and optimise the labour market as well. Plus, lower fuel consumption will also mean more cost-saving for trucking businesses.
Software-as-a-Service (also referred to as cloud-based software) has already impacted multiple industries, and trucking is not far behind. Investing in SaaS helps companies become fast-paced and allows them to become more scalable considering the increased storage of data and speed affordability through cloud-based software services.
SaaS also provides trucking companies the ability to serve their customers better. For instance, if your company receives an influx of new shipping customers, but doesn’t have a mobile logistics program to transmit new shipping route information to your team. With able technological support, your company can easily handle rapidly changing consumer demand. Moreover, these software solutions can also assist with tasks such as Scheduling, Fleet maintenance, IFTA compliance, Route planning and Load optimization.
These emerging trucking technologies can cause sweeping transformations across multiple aspects of the trucking industry, firmly putting it on the path of innovation and value creation.Rohit Jain