The trucking business is essential to international trade and logistics because it reliably and effectively moves products across vast distances. The sector does, however, confront difficulties, including a lack of drivers, growing labor expenses, and the need for more efficiency.
One of the major concerns associated with the future of the transportation business is trucking automation. Automation already exists and influences every corporate driver and their work, even though there are numerous beliefs about how it will change the world in the future.
When we talk about automation, self-driving trucks might be the first thing that comes to mind, but there is much more to consider.
So, what exactly is trucking automation? What effect would it have on the sector?
What Is Trucking Automation?
Using different AI-based software and sensors for managing and operating commercial trucks is known as trucking automation. This technology reduces the need for human drivers to intervene in trucks.
The major purpose of these characteristics is to aid truckers and facilitate their work. They include adaptive cruise, speed adjustment, and lane and braking support. At least some of these traits are present in the majority of the modern automated trucks.
On the other hand, creating a self-driving vehicle that does not require human supervision would be the ultimate example of automation.
Levels Of Trucking Automation
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has created a system of categorization that details the level of driving automation for a specific vehicle because not all automated cars are totally autonomous. Trucks are included in the scope of this system for motor vehicles.
Level 0 refers to autonomic-free automobiles. These are completely autonomous vehicles that may have helpful features like brake support, stability control, and collision or blind-spot alerts.
By including at least one driver support system, automobiles provide driver assistance. Level 1 includes steering help only. It can’t be both steering aid and acceleration and braking assistance, as this would constitute level 2 autonomy for the vehicle.
So, a truck driver may find level 1 automated trucks helpful in navigating lane-centering and lane-following or keeping a safe distance from other cars. Nevertheless, the driver must always be prepared to take over the vehicle’s operation.
Level 2 vehicles have certain automated driving features. They have self-parking, lane-changing, and autonomous braking. In some situations, they take over some parts of driving, but the driver must always be vigilant.
Level 3 automation vehicles can change lanes, accelerate around other cars, and make other decisions based on the changing conditions on the road. Though they are pretty efficient, the driver must still be vigilant and prepared to respond, even if he’s engaging in other things.
Level 4 of these vehicles indicates a very high degree of automation. Geographical restrictions and extreme weather, which would prevent these vehicles from operating autonomously, are their only real constraints. Apart from that, they can function without interacting with people.
The level 5 vehicles require human input for the destination location only owing to the amount of driving automation they possess. This means they are not restricted by geography or weather.
Impact Of Automation On The Trucking Industry
Many theories exist on how automation will affect the trucking sector. While the automation process has started and certain effects are already noticeable, it’s necessary also to be aware of the long-term changes it will bring about.
Naturally, the main issue with automated transportation is safety. For self-driving technology to be a secure substitute for human drivers, it must undergo extensive testing.
When there is no human driver there to take over, the risk of malfunctioning is significantly higher.
However, one of the main purposes of autonomous cars is to promote safety, which they can offer in a better way. This is precisely why most modern automobiles include collision alerts and brake assistance features.
It’s wonderful to know that there are AI systems that correct some of the faults made by humans. So, if done properly, automation should greatly increase the safety of highways.
Even though truck automation technologies are replacing some components of a driver’s employment, the impact in this area will differ slightly from what most people anticipate.
Long-haul hauling is where self-driving truck technology is mostly focused. While a truck with greater automation can travel long distances by highway, the route’s early and end segments through the trickier roads would require a human driver.
Therefore, the main objectives of trucking automation are not to replace the drivers but rather to lessen their burden, enhance working circumstances, alter how they live, and raise safety.
This technology should lessen the consequences of the truck driver shortage by assisting human drivers. But instead of doing away with the need for new drivers, maximum efficiency will be accomplished by making driving simpler, safer, and more desirable to human drivers.
When Could We Expect Full Automation?
As I just mentioned, there are many levels of automation, and some of them can be regarded as realistically realized. Reaching level 5 would result in complete automation, eliminating the need for any kind of human driver.
Giving accurate predictions of the progress in the technological industry is difficult in today’s society. Although self-driving trucks are now undergoing testing, complete services of the human drivers will still be required for some time.
Trucking Automation Investment – Potential & Opportunities
Investment in trucking automation is a fantastic opportunity for anyone seeking to enter the trucking sector.
For investors interested in the transportation sector, the automated trucking business is created to offer a turnkey solution. Truck drivers who want the chance to drive an automated truck can rent them from investors who buy automated trucks.
The leasing generates a passive income for the investors while allowing truck drivers to drive an automated vehicle. Investing in automated transportation is a great way to generate passive income and support the expansion of the trucking sector.
The automated trucking sector is expanding and has great potential for expansion due to the increased need for truck automation. The global autonomous truck market size was valued at $30.70 billion in 2022.
It is important to note that obstacles still need to be addressed before trucking automation is widely used. These include addressing possible employment displacement for truck drivers, legislative frameworks, infrastructure requirements, and public acceptability.
As forecasted, the autonomous truck market will witness a growth rate of over 17% between 2022 and 2028. That’s why the investment potential of trucking automation is projected to increase as technology develops and these problems are solved.
Automating the trucking business has enormous potential to change the transportation sector. The vision of completely autonomous trucks driving on our highways is rapidly becoming a reality thanks to AI, robotics, and communication technology developments.
Trucking automation has a high return on investment because of its capacity to reduce costs, boost production and efficiency, increase safety, and comply with industry and regulatory requirements.
Investors and stakeholders have the chance to help shape the future of trucking via smart investments in automation technologies as the industry and technology continue to develop.