Trucking the Path to Autonomy

Development efforts in self driving vehicles have progressed substantially. And while AV enabled cars often attract attention, AV technology in trucks may gain traction sooner. Listed below are a few reasons:


1) Long Haul & Linear Routes - Easier Planning

Trucks often travel more well defined routes from a plant to a distribution center (DC) or from DC to DC. These routes are often linear and in less densely populated areas. Charging infrastructure can further be planned to ensure cost effective transport across the route. Drivers are already logging significant hours and the AV technology can help ensure greater driver awareness. Moreover, truck drivers already receive significant training which can be supplemented with AV certifications.


Last mile delivery on the other hand can be dramatically more challenging with a high diversity of routes, greater population density, and uneven charging infrastructures.


2) Platooning - Save Money

Platooning provides an opportunity for several trucks to position themselves behind each other to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. By spacing trucks often ~50 feet can reduce air-drag friction. This has been estimated to provide roughly 10% energy savings to the following truck and around 5% for the lead truck.


By having AVs travel together, the following trucks can perform a simpler operations of following a lead vehicle versus actually performing the operations of being the lead vehicle, allowing for example, a following human operator to take a break relative to a lead truck operator.


3) Delivery Goods - Ability to Adjust

Delivering of goods versus transporting people can be easier. Beyond the issues centered around safety, the timely delivery of goods can be managed via the supply chain. For example, if a shipment gets delayed from one AV route, another source can be tapped.


TuSimple, Waymo, Volvo, Ike, Tesla, Embark, Diamler, Plus, and Einride are some of the companies bringing AV trucking solutions to market.


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