The Future of Trucking 6 Mind-Bending Future Helicopters & Aircrafts 1 year ago   06:55

The Daily Conversation
Imagining the future of the vast trucking industry that will become autonomous in the coming years.
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Video by Bryce Plank and Robin West.

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The semi-truck. Our modern lives are completely dependent on them. Look around you. Every object you see probably traveled on at least one big rig. Here in America, truckers make up 2% of the workforce. But with multiple game-changing technologies converging simultaneously — and the relentlessness of the hyper-competitive global marketplace — the industry will be revolutionized within the next two decades.

This is an examination of the future of trucking.

Before we get into the technology that will turn it all upside-down, we must first understand the way this extremely fragmented industry works now. To the numbers! There are about 3 million drivers for 2.5 million trucks in the US. Those trucks are owned by 532,000 carrier companies, but 90% of these fleets have fewer than six trucks—and half of all carriers are single individuals who own and operate their own rig. Then you have the middlemen, the freight brokers. These 13,000 companies play matchmaker between the manufacturers and wholesalers (who are trying to get their goods to market) and the retailers (who make the final sale to the consumer).

Because this industry is so splintered, there aren’t universal software systems tying it all together. In fact, 67% of shippers don’t use software at all and rely solely on paper records—in 2017!

This creates tremendous inefficiency. When every piece of information has to be communicated through human interactions, drivers are frequently forced to wait hours to book or pick-up a load. And sometimes they just don’t, an estimated 20% of trucks on the road are empty.

To solve these problems, investors are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on startups competing to develop the silver bullet, a software layer that can be used by every segment of the industry.

Another area ripe for modernization is how trucks are powered. Today, medium and heavy duty trucks account for 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in America.

To their credit, companies like Walmart are looking to transition to fleets powered by cleaner natural gas, the bridge fuel America has embraced to transition to renewables.

That’s where Tesla comes in. Elon Musk, CEO of the electric car manufacturer, plans to unveil an electric-powered semi-truck in the next six months.

Battery range will be the biggest obstacle to the widespread adoption of electric trucks as Tesla’s pack will probably only have a 200-300 mile range. The other challenge will be having enough charging stations — and enough power available at each station — to support fleets of Tesla trucks.

The Nikola One attempts to overcome these limitations. This gorgeous, hydrogen fuel cell truck will have a range up to 1,200 miles. The young company plans to begin leasing their trucks by 2020 for about $6,000 a month — including the cost of fuel — but it will first need to build a network of about 400 charging stations throughout the country.

Cutting the emissions of semi-trucks is great for the environment, but the real cost-saving opportunity lies in cutting out the drivers.

It’s been more than a year now since six convoys of semi-autonomous “smart” trucks arrived at the Netherlands port city of Rotterdam after leaving factories from as far away as Sweden and Southern Germany.

That experiment relied on a system called platooning, a semi-autonomous feature allowing trucks to find each other, link up, and draft to cut down on wind drag, saving energy—just like in NASCAR or the Tour de France.

And in October, a self-driving truck completed the first commercial shipment by an autonomous vehicle, delivering a load of Budweiser more than 120 miles across Colorado. A human got the truck on the highway and engaged the autonomous system, then climbed out of the driver’s seat. That truck was made by Otto motors, which was recently acquired by Uber.

And dozens of massive, 240-ton trucks are already being used in Australian mines.

So that’s the near-future we’ll see in the next 10 years: fleets of driverless trucks. Some will be designed to be autonomous, while others will have the system installed later. Many will be electric, and nearly all will be connected to efficient networks that are not slowed down by frequent human input.

Comments 1725 Comments

trucker grey ghost
"The real opportunity lies with cutting out drivers" ...drivers make up 1% of the ENTITRE USA workforce. It will tank the economy to put that many people out of work
johnny 2fire
All I know is they're will have to be security lol cause my new jobs well be to hack and jack these trucks
Aussie Drifter
With the global population increasing & everything becoming more & more automated & obviously less reliant on human interaction what
will human kind be needed for ???.
Will we end up with a society as portrayed in the movies were at the end of your most productiveness say 35 you will be autonomously terminated.
Something to certainly look forward to, & as said in this video it will be introduced in baby steps over a decade, Thank you for your futuristic
vision & insight Mr Elon Musk.
Astro Mars
Andrew Yang2020!
John Smith
Chris Iveson is a liar - there are already autonomous trucks in Florida with no one in the cab
Raul Quintanilla Jr
Slopoke 432
This is a stupid idea it will create massive employment and let the accidents start and I'm sure the freight hijacking is going to go way up all your gonna have is cut the power, there's to many flaws for this to be successful on a large scale
Joseph Paul Ritter
Sounds good on paper, but not in reality.
Zaid Chalabi
Self driving trucks work in certain areas
But what about car haulers when you have to load and unload cars. Very complicated
Mel Puzon
This is why I am voting for Andrew Yang in 2020.
The goal should be to save resources, not job opportunities
🤣🤣🤣 keep dreaming!
Faron T
A European company designed a huge capacitor that could power these trucks for more than 250 miles But the US government won't allow the companies use them
Bryan Max
This looks like a hot spot for hijackers and hackers for real. Nothing is really safe online. We seen it when banks get hacked
Ray Morrow
Without a driver: who will back into the dock? Check in with receiver? What if freeway is blocked or closed? What if the last truck stop before the snowed in mountain pass is completely full? Weather conditions? What if battery completely fails while in travel 75 mph on major highway?
I've been in the industry for 5 years.. there are situations that require moral judgement. This will never succeed as much as their greed wants it to.
George Isaak
Technology gives more to the "boss" than it gives to the "worker" that is crystal clear to me . The only good solution would be to make the advanced semi truck GREEN of course which saves the environment and driver friendly so they both have profit ! Taking the driver out of the equation is like as if you put your signature to a moving disaster . I am not even an American , nor a truck driver but i can see the whole matter from a perspective more neutral ... lets say you see the autonomous trailer driving by its own , while driving your car with your family inside ...your first reaction by instinct will be to keep a safe distance from that thing . PERIOD. Second flaw about this whole idea is not just the truck drivers losing their job , also the diner's where truckers used to eat at every stop , now will have less costumers and eventually will put locks one after another ...those places will become useless as time goes by and then ...the less people travel there the more likely is criminality to rise on those areas , people will be forced to move out off their houses in lack of income and safety . Its a chaos that simply the companies never thought about or they just didn't care about it . You can assist braking , you can make it have no emissions at all , but taking the driver out of the seat is a HUGE mistake plus that in case of an accident a robot will not assist you the way a truck driver could .
Megaman The Second
it would be much cheaper and simpler to make roads that actually work 8 lanes of traffic is just traffic america is incompetent when it comes to transportation in general i doubt automated driving will be any different ( lets not mention the long list of issues that most companies working on automated trucks ignore that would make trucks fatal and dangerous to humans)
joseph richardson
It would not work with a driver less truck
Lawrence Wright
Hey Bryce. I am just curious. Did you make videos saying that the Russia conspiracy was real, and then delete those videos too?
Lawrence Wright
Hey Bryce. What happened to those videos where you predicted a Hillary landslide? In fact, I seem to recall that you said Trump wouldn’t even get the nomination, or that if he did, the GOP would implode.

You were looking into a crystal ball then. How does all that broken glass taste now?
MizYazzy Khan
I wish folks would stop trying to cut jobs
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