Updated: Oct 5, 2022
The impression that I get when I speak to drivers about potential automation in trucking, is one of skepticism and denial. While robots might not be able to replace humans anytime soon, I believe hybrid models may become prevalent.
One such possibility may be robot team driving. What would HOS regulations look like if an owner-operator has the truck on autopilot for 10 hours? Safety and regulations may get to a point where one person could run the truck 24/7. Also, having a driver in the truck to do inspections, fuel, and back into docks is logical. The productivity potential is there.
Imagine a land train with a single driver operating three, five, or even ten trucks going down the interstate. The driver could pilot the first or last truck, and be able to supervise the equipment. This concept also lends itself to aerodynamics and fuel efficiency as the trucks could be synchronized to have a closer following distance, reducing wind resistance.
With increased productivity and fuel efficiency per driver, profit could be made at lower rates. This would give the owner a clear advantage over the competition without such technology.
It should be noted that it's not just drivers who are at risk of losing jobs. Automation has the potential to replace many different aspects of logistics. Think brokers, dispatch, and load planners. All these, and more, are replaceable with innovations in technology. Being adaptable in a constantly changing environment is not just how we will survive, but thrive.
My final thought on this topic is that this technology should be embraced with eagerness and curiosity, as the potential that it holds is enormous.