Driverless technology is taking the world today by storm. The invention and development of self-driven hauling technology is slowly finding its way into the transportation sector. Although this technology is still in its nascent stages of development, it is prospected that its full development would lead to significant improvements and bring anticipated as well as unprecedented effects upon the transportation sector.
Long hauling of goods and containers through roads today is plagued with a major problem of diminishing standards of safety. With the existing human-only safety systems in the modern-day trucking industry, over 650,000 Americans are prospected to have died on our roads for the last 18 years, accidents that are deemed to have been preventable. The development of the driver-less computer-based technology has put the need for safety and accident prevention first.
Autonomous trucks are now fitted with sophisticated computing technology which has hypersensitive sensors to detect and prevent accidents at a much-improved record than human-based trucks. Whereas the autonomous trucks cannot operate independently without human touch or influence where necessary, the technology is prospected to have a significant improvement in road safety. With improved safety, the trucks would also be able to transport bulkier goods for longer distances without safety-related incidences.
Reduced Shipping Costs
The development and deployment of the driver-less trucks in the transportation sector today is expected to have a major cost impact on the long haul transportation business via our roads. One of the major effects to that effect is expected to be the reduction of the shipping costs accrued when transporting containers. This effect is anticipated to be felt even as the autonomous vehicles would take the driver out of the equation when computing the costs incurred with shipping containers via roads. According to expert analysis, 34 percent of the costs incurred when shipping containers via roads go to drivers. Introduction of the driver-less technology would save up to $70 billion dollars per year for the trucking companies, costs that could be invested elsewhere.
Improved Fuel Economy
Fuel costs are a major enemy to profits in the long-haul transport business. Whereas driver-less trucks would use the same routes, the use of the microchip computer technology with integrated real-time road mapping technology is expected to expedite navigation for driver-less trucks. For instance, the trucks would be able to navigate through shorter routes which have fewer prospects for traffic jams. Also, the technology would also enable computed fuel efficiency where the computer would determine the optimal driving configurations of speed versus torque to save of fuel incurred for shipping containers. The improved fuel economy for the trucks is expected to save companies funds to the tune of $35 billion per year.
The introduction of the driver-less technology on our roads is therefore expected to revamp the road-based container shipping business. More costs would be saved even as shipping companies would be able to improve transportation safety as well as increasing investments in the business. It is, however, worth to note that the driverless technology would not eliminate the need for drivers on the long-haul trucking business.
Jacques Piccard is the Co-Founder and managing director of Davenport Laroche.