Recently Alphabet-owned Waymo announced that it was developing a self-driving semi-truck. This comes as no surprise as more automotive companies are thinking about introducing autonomous trucks. It will be interesting seeing a truck driver on a tablet or reading a book while their truck rolls along the highway, right? About eighteen states have already passed legislation related to self-driving vehicles. These states include Nevada, Alabama, California, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Dakota, Washington DC, Vermont, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, New York, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Colorado, and Michigan.
Autonomous trucks are revolutionizing a big industry in the American economy- the Supply Chain industry. The logistics industry employs over 1.7 million drivers, with trucking corporations experiencing an annual driver turnout of over 90%. The median truck driver’s age is a high 49 years old. With such a large number of truck drivers in the US, I can bet that you know a truck driver or a friend or relative who acquitted with one that is probably worried that the onset of self-driving trucks will drive them out of jobs, no pun intended. But will it? Flesh and blood truck drivers will be needed to maneuver the city streets, highway exits and to back up to the loading dock.
Autonomous trucks will make life easier for truck drivers by reducing the stress of long-haul driving, the primary source of fatigue for drivers.
Self-driving trucks will have a great impact on the Supply Chain and logistics industry. Here a few areas that you might notice shifting with the introduction of autonomous semi-trucks.
1. Road safety- Most people are concerned about computer-driven vehicles, but autonomous trucks will significantly improve highway safety by reducing driver error and fatigue from long-haul driving. People need not worry about accidents caused by distracted driving or human error when self-driving cars can travel over 700,000 miles accident-free.
2. Delivery speed- Experts predict that there’ll be increased speed in delivery due to a reduction in congestion and ability to cover longer distances in 24 hours. Moreover, trucking companies will be able to save maintenance costs, fuel consumption, emissions and vehicle downtime.
3. The cost of goods- We can expect reduced prices for products with autonomous trucks. Since transportation costs are a huge determinant of the cost of goods sold, most companies carry forward the costs to the consumers. With reduced transportation costs comes reduced prices.
4. Network design- Most organizations typically set the location of their distribution centers with the underlying assumption that trucks can’t cover more than 500 miles in a day. However, with the onset of autonomous trucks, the distance traveled is substantially increased. This will affect the size, number, and location of distribution centers. For example, an organization with five strategically placed distribution centers can shift to two large distribution centers that cover a larger geographic area.
Self-driving trucks technology will improve traffic efficiency and cut expenditure for organizations while reducing the cost of goods in marketplace. The trucks will still need flesh and blood drivers to maneuver the city and highway. So, if you know any truck drivers, you can tell them not to freak about this new revolution.
Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics