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6 Technologies that will Impact the Future of Trucking

By Vineet Baid on July 31, 2020


"…cars and trucks in which human drivers are never required to take control to safely operate the vehicle. Also known as autonomous or ‘driverless’ cars, they combine sensors and software to control, navigate, and drive the vehicle."

—Union of Concern Scientists, USA (USCUSA)

Is this what the future of trucking looks like?

For a few years, electric trucks were mainly being worked on by startup companies, while the large tech companies were mostly silent on the issue. This all changed around 2017. Tesla unveiled its all-electric autonomous truck in 2017 and the early customers of this product are Walmart, UPS and PepsiCo. Then, Daimler unveiled the electric siblings of their most popular trucks, Cascadia and M2 as eCascadia and eM2 in 2018. At the ACT Expo in 2018, Roger Nielson, the CEO of Daimler Trucks, said that the time has come to contemplate the post-internal combustion engine. The production of Daimler electric trucks will begin in 2021. In April 2019, the Nikola Motor Company, a tech startup unveiled its semi-truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Anheuser Busch, a beer making company has planned to buy 800 units of Nikola’s hydrogen fuel powered semi-truck.

Uber has also acquired a startup company, Otto which is working on autonomous trucks. In October, 2018 Otto completed the first shipment in the world from a self-driven truck. The cargo hauled by it contained 51,744 cans of Budweiser. 

Future of Trucking Otto

Any technological advancement requires large investments. According to a report from CB Insights, $2 billion has been invested in startup trucking companies as of 21st May, 2019. The investments in tech startups jumped a huge leap from $114 million in 2014 to $3.6 billion in 2018. The growing interest in the future of trucking has increased the scale of investments. The costs of electric trucks are quite higher than that of a diesel truck. Nielson went on to say that the business scenario at present will not allow a sane fleet operator to buy an electric truck. The industry needs to find ways to carry on research and make batteries that are half the current size and price. Also, it must double the energy density. In the meantime, partnerships and grants can make production of electric trucks possible.

The 6 major technologies that may impact the future of trucking are:

Electric Trucks

Autonomous Vehicles

Platooning

Shipper Platforms

Blockchain Trucking

Artificial Intelligence

Electric Trucks - Future

The depletion of the conventional sources of energy have made researchers seek alternative sources to power vehicles. Additionally, vehicles need to be designed and structured in such a way that is compatible with alternative sources of energy. Thus, conservation of nature has been a driving concern behind a lof of the recent innovations. 

Since trucks were first used in the late nineteenth century, they have come a long way. The future seems quite exciting as truck manufacturing companies are aiming to build electronic and autonomous trucks. Trucking had altered the way America did business and a lot is set to change in the coming years as well. With Tesla, Volvo, Daimler and other truck giants about to launch electric trucks in a few years, the future of trucking never seemed so promising and exciting. 

A Brief History of Electric Trucks

The first crude yet viable electric motor which could power a tiny car was built by ÁnyosJedik, a Hungarian priest in 1827. 28% of vehicles running on American roads in 1900 was actually powered by electricity. Milburn electrics was the vehicle used by President Woodrow Wilson and his team of secret service agents to travel around Washington, DC. Once charged, the vehicle could travel a distance of approximately 60-70 miles. Though, initially electric vehicles did not have rechargeable batteries. The first electric carriage was invented somewhere around 1832-1839 in Scotland by Robert Anderson. It ran on primary cells which were non-rechargeable. The nickel-iron battery was one of the kinds of rechargeable batteries.

Of the many companies that produced and sold electrical vehicles, Baker Electric, Detroit Electric and Columbia Electric were quite notable.

Why did electric vehicles lose their prominence?

Cars powered by internal combustion became cheaper. Also large petroleum reserves were found in Oklahoma, California and Texas. Additionally, roads outside urban areas began to improve. Due to the availability of better roads, cars with internal combustion engines became a more popular choice.

In 1913, Henry Ford introduced a line of gasoline-powered vehicles. These vehicles were mass produced which lowered the price. Gasoline vehicles became more and more popular. The electrical vehicles began to lose ground, only to come back with a bang after nearly a century. 

Why do Electric vehicles seem like a promising option in the present day?

Benefits of Electric Vehicles

There are a number of reasons behind the growing popularity of electric vehicles:

Can use electricity generated by non-conventional sources

Electrical vehicles need electricity to recharge batteries. Apart from fossil fuels, this electricity can also be generated from renewable sources like solar, wind and tidal energy.

Leaking oil from conventional engines

The conventional engine may leak oil. If not detected in time, this can lead to damages. Electric vehicles do not have this fear as they run on rechargeable batteries.

Regenerative braking

Regenerative braking is one of the key advantages of plug-in or hybrid electric vehicles. In a hybrid vehicle a conventional way of propulsion is often merged with an electric one. This braking system helps an electric vehicle gain back the kinetic energy which is usually lost as heat during friction braking. This recovered kinetic energy can be stored in the vehicle’s battery as electricity and give a small recharge in that way.

A step towards autonomous driving

It is an easier integration for full self-driving capabilities to happen with an electric vehicle rather than a traditional engine. 

Less noise while operating

Vehicles that run on electricity cause less noise in comparison to a combustion engine. Emitting less noise means that a truck can run in suburban areas at night without causing any disturbance.

Fewer service and maintenance needs

Electric vehicles have fewer service and maintenance needs. This is because there are 30% fewer movable parts as compared to a conventional vehicle with a combustible engine.

No tailpipe emissions

As electric vehicles do not run on conventional sources of energy like fossil fuels, there is no smoke emission. Hence, it can be driven in environmental zones as well.

Energy efficient

As electric trucks use rechargeable batteries to function, the energy consumption of the truck is maximized. 

Types of Electric Vehicles available

Electric vehicles can recharge batteries from a number of energy sources:

  • Fossil fuel
  • Nuclear energy
  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Tidal energy

Based on the type of energy used, electric trucks can be classified into four categories:

  • HEV or Hybrid Electric Vehicle
  • PHEV or Plug-in Electric Vehicle
  • BEV or Battery Electric Vehicle
  • FHEV or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

HEV or Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Instead of using only a traditional engine, a HEV or Hybrid Electric Vehicle, adds to the engine an electrical option. By using regenerative brakes, HEVs convert kinetic energy into electric energy as mentioned above. These vehicles use both electric energy and use gas or diesel to operate.

PHEV or Plug-in Electric Vehicle

A hybrid electric vehicle which has a battery that has the option of being recharged by plugging it into an external source of energy is called PHEV or Plug-in Electric Vehicle. These vehicles use electricity for short distances. When the battery is over, the driver can switch over to the conventional combustion engine. This type of vehicle allows the driver flexibility that ensures high fuel and energy utilization. The use of electric energy to run the vehicle saves fuel costs. The emissions from the tailpipe are also minimized. 

BEV or Battery Electric Vehicle

This type of vehicle uses chemical energy stored in its rechargeable batteries. This is a pure electric vehicle. Being battery operated, BEV vehicles do not have a combustion engine. Instead, it uses electric motors along with motor controllers.

FHEV or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

This type of vehiclehas an electric motor, that is recharged by the chemical reaction of oxygen and hydrogen. It is true that some emissions are created while the hydrogen is produced for the fuel cells. However, water is the only waste product while an FHEV is driven.

Autonomous Vehicles

The advancement of electrical vehicles in recent years calls for another futuristic feature in trucking: autonomous driving. The concept of autonomous driving began with the notion of ‘driver assistance’ or ‘assisted driving’. It aims to have completely driverless vehicles or a vehicle where the people inside are passengers. Undoubtedly, the concept of autonomous driving demands an advanced technology with superior sensors. P C Mag has defined an autonomous car as, “A computer-controlled car that drives itself.” Autonomous trucks can save a lot of money too. Morgan Stanley estimates that if American trucks are made autonomous, $168 billion can be saved each year. Though, we are still many years away from full autonomous driving as of now. Autonomous driving has been set to five stages. The fifth stage is considered the most technically and mechanically advanced one:

Future of Trucking Autonomous Driving

Stage 0 – No Automation

Vehicles controlled by human drivers and without any sort of support from computerized driver assistance system is considered stage 0 or ‘No Automation’.

Stage 1 – Driver Assistance

Vehicles in ‘Driver assistance’ level or stage 1 are jointly controlled by the driver and a computerized automated system. There are a number of ways in which this system can work. A driver usually always controls the steering, while the automated system may have certain control over the brakes and speed of the vehicle when required. At times the engine power is controlled by the automated system which ensures that the vehicle can maintain a specific speed. At times parking assistance is also available with this automated system. Here, the speed of the vehicle is controlled manually while the steering is done automatically. However, the driver has to be alert and ready to take up the control if any problem arises. This type of driving is also called ‘hands on’ driving.

Stage 2 – Partly Automated Driving

In stage 2 or the ‘Partly Automated Driving’ level, the driver monitors the driving process while it is conducted by the automated system. If in any situation or condition, the automated system cannot do its job or fails to respond, the driver has to take up manual controls immediately. This stage is at times called ‘hands off’. In this stage it is mandatory for the driver to keep hands on the steering wheel at all times. This mandate is for safety purposes. Having the driver constantly holding the steering wheel means that immediate manual control of the vehicle can be taken up during any situation.

Stage 3 – Highly Automated Driving

The ‘Highly Automated Driving’ level is commonly called ‘eyes off’ level. This means that the driver is not required to constantly monitor the driving or look at the road ahead. The automated system will be able to perform on its own and without any human interference. If any problem occurs, automatically the emergency brakes are applied. Though the driver can usually do personal work while the vehicle is on the road, during adverse or critical conditions human intervention may be required. These situations will be specified by the manufacturer before-hand.

Stage 4- Fully Automated Driving

In the ‘Fully Automated Driving’ the human driver is allowed to take their ‘mind off’ in most of the situations. The driver may sleep or do other work in other part of the vehicle as the vehicle is capable to look after its own safety. This type of vehicle is capable of completing the journey and park itself. However, during traffic jams (which falls under ‘special circumstances’ category) or tight-spaced areas, the vehicle has to be operated by a human driver. 

Stage 5- Full Automation

In a vehicle having ‘Full Automation’, the steering wheel is optional. Hence, it does not require any human intervention for any aspect related to driving. Through this type of vehicle, full automation is achieved.

What is our present stage in Truck automation?

Volvo’s VNL and Pleton’s Platooning System are examples of trucks that are available in the trucking market today that have Stage 1 automation. Under the Stage 2 automated truck category, the new 2020 Cascadia will be the first truck in Northern America according to Freightliner. It will begin production from July, 2019. Embark and Starsky Robotics are the two other Stage 2 automated trucks that will be available in the future but at present are in pre-commercial stage. Freightliner Inspiration and Uber Otto are trucks that fulfill the criteria of the Stage 3 automation. However, at present they are only available in prototype retrofits. The Freightliner Inspiration was the first automated truck to be licensed to operate on the highways of the country back in 2015. 

At the CES electronics show in Las Vegas on 7th January, 2019, Daimler trucks announced that it will invest more than half a billion dollars and create 200 new jobs in its global endeavor to launch Stage 4 or highly automated trucks in about 10 years. The switch from Stage 2 to Stage 4 is natural and hence the step of conditional automation is being skipped as according to Daimler, conditional automation will not provide any extra advantage to the truck drivers. In the 3rd stage of automated driving, drivers can go about doing other work but have to take immediate control if the system cannot tackle the situation. The mental and physical switch from leisure to prompt action may not be as quick as required thus, it is judicious to skip the Stage 3 altogether. Additionally, Stage 4 will ensure optimal utilization of the trucks. They will be able to travel at night and avoid traffic congestion by smart route management. Future of trucking is looking very promising with autonomous vehicles. 

Platooning in Trucks

Another trucking innovation in the near future is platooning. Platooning is the coupling of two or more trucks to form a convoy through the use of automated driving support system and connectivity technology. The ways in which platooning works is:

  • The trucks maintain a set automatically.
  • The space between the trucks is reduced when the trucks are connected to each other during certain parts of the haul. This reduction of gap between the vehicles improves the aerodynamics which in turn improves fuel efficiency.

Peloton Technology plans to commercially introduce a platooning system that is partially automated. This system at present allows two trucks to work in a close chain. Peloton technology’s PlatoonPro is already being used in fleet operation by six of its clients. 

The features of Platooning system by Peloton Technology:

  • In the PlatoonPro system, the driver of the rear truck steers the vehicle.
  • The powertrain and brakes are controlled by the PlatoonPro system. This allows the vehicles to follow one another at a small gap.
  • According to Peloton Technology, the PlatoonPro system ensures average fuel savings of 7%.
  • The Automated Following system is a combination of radar-based active braking and software with vehicle-to-vehicle communication. This allows the human driver to guide the steering, acceleration and braking of the following trucks. The human driver will also be able to connect the trucks’ safety systems with little or no latency.
  • According to Peloton Technology, the L4 Automated Following truck will double the freight a truck driver is able to haul in one trip. 

Usefulness of platooning

Platooning is said to have a number of benefits for the future of trucking:

Platooning Future of Trucking

Improved safety

Truck platooning is said to improve the safety of the convoy as the brakes of all the trucks can be applied automatically and immediately. It has been seen that during truck platooning, automated brakes take one-fifth of the human time to analyze the road condition and apply the brakes.

Efficient performance

There can be optimal utilization of roads in the platooning system, increasing the range of the roads and avoiding traffic jams. As a consequence, goods can be delivered quickly and efficiently. 

Cleaner environment

During truck platooning, the Carbon Dioxide emissions can be reduced along with fuel consumption. The air-drag friction is also considerately reduced as the trucks drive close to one another.

However, Platooning is not really as fuel-effective as it is being claimed by some. Daimler has said that during testing of the platooning system its fuel savings are less than estimated even in perfect conditions. These savings are further reduced if the platoon is disconnected and have to be accelerated again to get reconnected.

Shipper Platform: Uber Freight and Amazon Freight

Freight Brokerage Future of Trucking

Freight brokerage connects shippers with the appropriate carriers. Recently, technology is playing a role in this aspect as well with Shipper Platforms. 

The Trucking business was taken by storm with the introduction of shipper platforms like Uber Freight. Shipper platforms connect shippers with small fleets hauling freight via a load-matching feature. Uber Freight launched its load-booking app in May, 2017. The main intention behind the launch of Uber Freight was automating the manual processes of shipper selection and increasing market visibility. It was also intended to relieve shippers from time consuming legal proceedings and the anxiety of getting the best possible deal. This is one of the many ways on how owner operators can find loads

The features of Shipper Platforms and how they may impact the future of trucking:

  • Carriers can book a load with just the click of a button.
  • Shippers can instantly connect to a network of drivers and fleets of the Uber network and manage shipments from their office or home.
  • Uber freight enables shippers to tender a load with the click of a few buttons saving time and energy.
  • Transparency of quotes helps shippers know the marketplace pricing instantly. The Uber Freight’s rates are current on-going marketplace rates which are generated in real-time.
  • The vast network of drivers and small fleets with Uber Freight ensures that reliable and appropriate fleets are chosen.
  • Shipments can be tracked. For every major milestone, automatic notifications are sent to the shippers.
  • Uber Freight’s Uber Freight Plus has a loyalty program. It gives the drivers fuel discounts, servicing discounts, and helps in the purchase of old and new trucks among other features.
  • With the completion of the delivery, all the necessary documents are arranged automatically for shippers.

Uber also reported that the freight division has a network of more than 50,000 carriers and mentioned that some of the largest carriers in the country are users of the app. However, it has not been all great for Uber Freight since its launch. Uber Freight posted a loss of $64 million in the first quarter of 2020. According to CNBC, Uber Freight gives 99% of the revenue generated to the trucking companies, which leaves little room for profitability.

There may also be a few other reasons why Uber Freight has not been fully able to live up to its vision:

Rudimentary features

With the growth of GPS tracking and ELD devices, merely providing shippers the details of the truck’s location is not unique. Shippers also need to know the route the truck is taking and the HOS data.

Not so reliable in fleet and driver selection

In Uber Freight there is not a lot of barrier to sign up. All carriers do not have to provide basic requirements like an active DOT/ MC number, proper safety ratings or proof of insurance. A shipper may not feel comfortable about doing business with such carriers. 

Shortage of drivers

Uber Freight provides drivers a number of perks. In spite of this, driver shortage is quite a problem. Drivers will want a steady job that ensures a good livelihood. Hence, many drivers will prefer to work with a trucking company with regular pay, rather than rely completely on Uber Freight.

Focus on shippers rather than carriers

While launching the load-booking app, the shippers’ perspective was given a lot of importance as the price transparency feature shows. However, the carriers are an integral part of the trucking business too. Apart from the loyalty program there has not been a push to ensure that carriers get steady and constant work through Uber Freight. 

Uber Freight is not deterred from their path though, and mentioned recently in 2020 that their focus is still there to grow the Uber Freight business.

Amazon has also launched its own freight app, ‘Amazon Freight’. Amazon Freight was released quite quietly some time in 2016 or 2017. This app allows truck drivers to take up jobs of hauling Amazon packages in Prime-branded trailers across the country.

Fleets can sign up through the website and hauling assignments get allotted accordingly. There are a few requirements which drivers have to fulfill:

  • A fleet should have at least 3 trucks.
  • The trucking company should have its own DOT/MC number.

Amazon tried to use the truck drivers base and enhance its business via the Amazon Freight service. However, truckers do not see a good livelihood coming from only hauling Amazon trailers. Anecdotal evidence says that the payment is fairly low. It can be kept as an option, or can be opted as back-hauling. Doing business exclusively with Amazon Freight is said to not be fully profitable. In spite of the initial setbacks, Uber Freight and Amazon Freight are changing the future of the trucking business. 

Amazon launched its freight app ‘Relay’ in 2018. It operates in 5 states—Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. Its aim is to give truckers additional freight information. It has features like route tracking and expedited checking procedures at the warehouses. It has been designed to help truckers get faster entry and exit at the Amazon warehouses. It is Amazon’s first attempt at automating the truck delivery process.

How does the Relay work?

In these 3 steps:

Relay Amazon Future of Trucking

Amazon also intends to build an app like Uber Freight that will match cargo shippers with truck drivers.

Blockchain Trucking

The trucking industry in general has certain inefficiencies. Deals can take time to get finalized. The related paperwork is again, time-consuming and hectic. The trucking industry needs an open platform where shippers and carriers can view each others profile, get the selection process done in less time and get the load rolling. However, how will this be possible? The Blockchain is kindling hopes of achieving a seamless and frictionless trucking system. First, let's understand the basics of blockchain and how it can make the trucking space a community where work can get done more efficiently.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is an open digital ledger. It is a business network where transactions can be recorded along with tracking of assets. Blockchain technology is inherently based on cryptography, a complicated branch of mathematics. Blockchain is also decentralized. It depends on the consensus of a peer network spread across the world to function. This digital ledger is made up of a series of ‘blocks’. The blocks are the bundles of transactions which are connected together in an open ‘chain’. The data entered in the blockchain is considered to be true and valid. As being a decentralized forum, there is no single authority to verify the facts. Everyone is always on the same page. It is impossible to change or modify the data in a block as that will modify the entire chain and will need consensus from the entire network.

The whole community associated with the blockchain will be able to validate the data entered by an organization as blockchain technology is an open-to-all ledger. It leaves no room for speculation, assumption and data falsity. Hence, a holistic trucking ecosystem can be developed through a blockchain network. After all, organizations can be rest assured that the data they have been provided is authentic and validated.

How will blockchain be used in the future of trucking?

The trucking industry can definitely benefit from blockchain technology. One of the obstacles of the trucking industry is that it is largely fragmented. There’s no open knowledge about which shippers are currently looking for carriers or which carriers are open to haul shipments. Blockchains open ledger will open up the trucking industry. One of the problems it will most definitely solve is matching appropriate truckers with shippers. In the longer run blockchain technology can function as an open network for truckers. 

The trucking industry largely depends on paperwork. Due to this, administration and processing costs have gone up to 20%. However, blockchain technology allows the sharing and easy distribution of documents on the open ledger. This sharing facility makes paperwork between shippers and carriers quite unimportant. Easing out the hassles of documentation will make payments possible in less time.

Some trucks, especially refrigerated ones, carry medical shipments. These are at times detained at customs for large periods of time. This mostly happens when trucks exceed the allowed range of temperature. A blockchain enabled refrigerated truck-trailer made by the Swiss Tech company, SkyCell, lowered the temperature-deviated rate to less than 0.1%. With the use of smart approvals, clearance at the customs checkpoints can be made smoother and more efficient. Moreover, a refrigerated trailer has to be closely recorded at every step. It has to pass through more than 30 organizations which require more than 200 different pieces of information. Any miscommunication can either delay the shipment or the shipper may lose track of it. A blockchain network will ensure that communication at every step is clearly noted. This ensures the shipment reaches the respective facility on time.

The e-commerce industry has developed in such a pace that same-day and 2-hour delivery options are provided to customers. For a parcel to be delivered in the same day or in 2 hours, the technology should not have any glitch. The traditional trucking technology largely relies on paperwork at every stop can not be suitable for such a fast-paced delivery. The blockchain technology with its immediate access to order tracking and authentication ensures that the delivery takes place in the required time. 

At times, trucking companies order spare truck parts and also old trucks. The tracking of these spare parts or old trucks can be pretty exhausting as no proper forum is provided for constant tracking. However, the blockchain network will enable the efficient tracking of the supply chain as well. 

These are the different ways that blockchain can impact the future of the trucking industry:

Blockchain Trucking

Efficient Freight Tracking

As mentioned above consumer expectations are ever-increasing along with demands for same-day delivery and two-hour delivery. Blockchain will not only take care of the tracking of the shipments but also help in authentication. 

In order to ensure consistent improvement in trucking operations, authentic data has to be provided to transportation companies. EDI or electronic data interchange and API or application program interface leaves room for data manipulation or misinterpretation. Blockchain has the backup of the entire network to contribute information and authenticate the data. Hence, there is no scope of data tampering. Blockchain also improves the efficiency of temperature controlled and refrigerated trucking which is reliant on on-time delivery by giving data backup at every step.

IoT (The Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) enhance monitoring efficiency

Carriers and shippers can detect the total space taken up by a shipment in a trailer with the help of IoT. This helps to determine the expense of the shipment and all the information can be transmitted to the blockchain. This aids in maintaining the transparency of the freight cost. SkyCell had created containers for air freight. These containers monitor humidity, temperature and location for transporting biopharmaceuticals that require refrigeration. Its cloud platform is also utilized by SkyCell for recording every document of the shipping process, from start to finish. As these cargos travel through various check-points, all the required documents available at hand make the transportation process easy and efficient. Thus, the blockchain technology ensures that valuable cargo is transported intact and has the backup of all supporting documents that might be needed along the journey by using IoT and AI.

Maintaining vehicle performance history

While it is very important to have fleet tracking records for future use, the tracking records of a vehicles performance is also beneficial for the future. A vehicles performance records include its maintenance history and past performance. When considering used trucks, buyers are usually interested in the past history of the truck. However, that leaves a grey area of speculation. With blockchain technology, a prospective buyer and seller will have all the information validated by the entire network easing any intermediary speculations.

Ease of new carrier onboarding

While taking on new carriers, it is quite difficult for freight brokers to find all the adequate information on that carrier. It is quite time consuming to get all the required details together and that also leaves room for speculation. However, with the blockchain system all the necessary details of the new carrier will be provided by the decentralized network. This network stores all the data of the carriers operating in the transportation and freight industry. No new carrier will be able to give false information in an open network. 

Vehicle to vehicle communication via the Internet of Things (IoT)

Platooning technology uses vehicle to vehicle communication to enable vehicles to work together as a convoy. This communication via IoT can improve the vehicles efficiency and safety as the platooning system claims to do. All communication information can be stored in the blockchain and this information will be helpful for all the transportation companies using the blockchain network to operate their fleets better.

Improving reliability of load boards

In a blockchain network, all the loads can be verified by others and get time-stamped in the process. This will ensure that loads are not duplicated and the carriers get authentic information. The blockchain network will also be able to authenticate all the loads put up. Thus, the reliability of the load board is improved due to a blockchain network.

Smart Contracts

Smart Contract allows companies to program self-executing tasks in the blockchain network. The task gets automatically performed when certain criteria are fulfilled. For example, a carrier’s payment can be released when the cargo reaches the facility if the task has been set accordingly.

Those are a list of some potential benefits. The largest blockchain network at present is by the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA). Its current members have exceeded 1000 in number. The members include mcCleod Software, UPS, DAT, Salesforce, Don Hummer trucking, Transfix. BiTA members are taking part in nearly 85% truck-related global transactions. Its blockchain standards have brought a uniformity and efficiency in the trucking community. Sweetbridge is another blockchain based technology that seeks to take care of the significant inefficiencies of the supply chain across the world. Some major problems it addresses are — supply chain operations, supply chain flexibility and supply chain liquidity.

The blockchain revolution has just begun. It must also be taken into account that to use a blockchain system, the trucking or shipper company must have the adequate resources like the required hardware and software, along with the technological know-how. In spite of all the speculated downsides, blockchain seems like a wonderful solution for many trucking problems. It must be nurtured with time and technical advancement. In the coming years, the trucking industry’s profitability and efficiency will reach new heights if blockchain trucking’s functionality continues along the same graph.

Artificial Intelligence and Trucking

According to the American Trucking Association, the US freight transport will increase to 20.73 billion tons by 2028. This huge growth by 36.6% from the freight weight of 15.18 billion tons in 2017 will need an advanced infrastructure. This will be able to ensure smooth operation of such a ‘healthy’ industry. Along with the existing challenges, fuel prices, increasing cost of operation, driver shortage and shortage of shipping capacity will be the crucial areas in coming years. Every American is virtually affected by trucking. Hence, smooth operation must be ensured so that the economy and the lives of the people maintain a steady pace. AI can be of real help to continue to roll the wheels of the trucking industry.

Some of the key ways in which AI can affect the trucking space are:

AI Trucking

Cost reduction

AI will be able to foster predictive maintenance systems. This will help vehicles perform better. With constant monitoring, any mishap can be predicted beforehand. It can monitor by keeping in check the maintenance logs, IoT sensors, and other external sources. This will have a dual impact of reducing the maintenance costs and increasing the fleet performance. In other words, it can predict when a maintenance will be needed in advance of an issue occuring. So rather than being reactive with maintenance issues, carriers can be proactive. 

Lower the numbers of highway fatality

AI along with IoT enhances vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V). V2V along with ADAS, or advanced driver assistance systems, can prevent nearly 40% of road crashes according to a publication by the NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The prevention of highway fatality will save a lot of money and more importantly lives. Cisco IBSG estimates that the savings can be $280 per crash.

Natural image processing

Trucking involves a lot of paperwork. The documentation has to be stored in proper folders as any information may be required for any purpose in the future. This process can be exhausting and time consuming. AI with its feature of natural image processing can recognize and retrieve any scanned document. This easy retrieving of documents will aid the manual task of computer data entry.

Predictive analytics

AI processes past performance records. This will not only predict the health of a vehicle but will also predict about the drivers. AI will also be able to analyze what conditions are preferred by drivers and what are the chances of driver retention. 

Match carrier with shippers

While human freight brokers find it extremely taxing to connect the appropriate carriers with the shippers, AI can easily do so by matching facts and data.

With all the new technological advancements and more to follow, the future of trucking indeed looks promising and exciting. We are also a technology provider in this space and are always looking for ways to improve the life of truck drivers through technology. You can learn more about us - ELD Mandate

 




Vineet Baid

Vineet Baid
Like the simple things in life like chocolates, beer, and fries.


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