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Cruising into the Future: How Self-Driving Trucks will Transform the Fleet Industry

In less than a decade or so, self-driving vehicles that communicate with one another will likely take over our roads and highways. What are the implications for your fleet business? How will self-driving vehicles change and benefit your business operationally?

Implications for the Trucking Industry Today

That transport truck barreling towards you is a forceful object driven by a person that has good days, bad days, may be tired or rested and is susceptible to any number of distractions while on the job. That is about to change.

According to the American Trucking Associations’, $726.4 billion worth of freight (weighing in a 10.49 billion tons), was hauled across the U.S. in 2015. This sector represents an enormous chunk of economic activity and it is now one of the most innovative fields in transport, thanks to the push for self-driving trucks.

Self-driving trucks represent sea-changing technology that carries with it important implications for your business:

  • Will you still own or will you rent self-driving vehicles, on an as needed basis and reduce your maintenance budget?
  • Will you be able to re-purpose your fleet if it switches to electric-powered technology to serve as mobile charging stations for one another?
  • Could your self-driving fleet service construction sites as mobile power vehicles? Who do you need to employ if you don’t need drivers? Will you still need financing and insurance?
  • Will your accident rate decrease?

Taken together, the shift to self-driving vehicles, in general, and trucks, in particular, have major implications that will forever alter the way the transportation industry manages hauling goods.

Self-Driving Benefits     

The American Trucking Association estimates that a driver shortage of 240,000 will exist by 2023. This has the power to disrupt transport of many goods and negatively affect business without a surge in driverless trucks occurring at roughly the same time. Young people are less willing to spend time away from home so an aging mobile workforce is getting harder and harder to replace.

In addition to solving the labor shortage problem, here are some other benefits that self-driving trucks can bring to your business:

  • Improved fleet tracking. As the Internet of Things (IoT) technology fuels Vehicle-to- Vehicle capabilities, these vehicles will posses the means to communicate with each other, and you will be able to receive real-time data from them.
  • No mandatory rest periods. With self-driving trucks there will be less down time saving you money from having to keep vehicles idle.
  • Safety. Over 3800 people die from accidents that involve large trucks every year. Autonomous trucks would drastically reduce this number, saving in human tragedy and also in economic terms (insurance claims, replacement vehicles, etc.).
  • Role changing. As the self-driving technology becomes more available, driverless trucks will be assigned the longer driving routes with people-driven trucks handling tasks in your immediate area.
  • Safety in numbers. Your truck fleet will be able to be driven in platoon style as trucks will be able to travel much more closely together over long distances.

When self-driving trucks begin to populate the roads and highways within the next decade, the full impact of the IoT will be evident. Inter-connectivity allows for driverless trucks that communicate with one another, lessening the likelihood of crashes, saving fuel, and increasing profits.

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