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Autonomous Trucking to be a Slow-burn

June 27, 2019
autonomous trucking

It’s an ongoing discussion in the trucking world. When will the massive wave of driverless trucks start overtaking our highways? After all, people have been predicting this forever. Article after article does an in-depth analysis of how trucking jobs are being threatened and the autonomous truck take-over is imminent. But let’s just hold up.

According to the recent report, The State of the Autonomous Trucking Industry: “Evolution not Revolution” is this rush of driverless trucks isn’t just going to suddenly replace the old system. According to those polled at FreightWaves Freight Intel Group, the thought is that a fully autonomous future for the trucking industry is projected to be at least a decade away. In fact, the general consensus, based on the polling, is that this future is actually probably more like 20 to 30 years away.

This means that all those salacious stories about the end of truck driver jobs is for now mostly just internet nonsense.

The Real Impediments to a Driverless Truck Reality

Definitely this doesn’t mean that a driverless trucking future is a fantasy. Nor does it mean that real developments are happening all the time in this world. It just means a lot of the driverless technology still remains in the early stages. We’re hinting at the future, but it remains off in the distance.

A big reason isn’t so much the technology component but rather the regulatory end of it. There’s a steep curve going from the venture capital-backed proof-of-concept phase to the full commercial viability.

Moreover, the segmented reality of the trucking business will also be an obstacle to full adoption of driverless technology. The fact is almost 91 percent of the fleets in America consist of less than eight trucks. In order, to equip them with an autonomous system can cost from $50,000 to up to $100,000… Sometimes even more. Obviously, this amount exceeds the financial means of most modest fleets.

So what does this mean? Well, in order to accomplish full adoption of autonomous trucking both truckers and shippers will want to be able to count on a high probability that they’ll get a good return on investment. Furthermore, the legality of AT technology is not even authorized in most U.S. states.

Bottom line, as it stands right now the big take-over is down the road and the technology must contend with a number of challenges.

So what do you all think?

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