Automated Trucking and the Future of Drivers

Of all the career opportunities in logistics currently, few are as polarized right now as truck driving. In May, Nevada granted the first license to test and operate an automated commercial truck to Daimler Trucks North America. While the DTNA stressed that a driver would be present in all trucks, it’s a solid move away from a driver-responsible trip and a move closer to fully automated trucking. Thousands of hours of testing and significant regulatory hurdles put practical automation at least a decade away, but benefits are coming sooner from partial automation systems that enhance the performance of human drivers and increase efficiency.iStock_000000765790_Small

According to industry analysts, 60% of wasted truck fuel is caused by driver over acceleration. Automation removes the instinctual driving fluctuations of a human operator and saves at least 3% of fuel consumption as an artificially intelligent system can plan and route from the beginning to end of a trip without wavering. A cut on fuel usage also reduces the carbon emissions from trucking annually.

With a current shortage of between 35-40 thousand drivers nationwide, an automated solution seems like a modern answer for transportation. Considering that trucks move nearly 70% of all US inland freight, the shortage, need, and the intense rise in labor costs, this industry is almost 100,000 jobs short of necessary to keep pace with demand. The demand increases labor cost, competition among employers and also, interestingly, turnover within the industry. Amazingly, the final quarter of 2014 saw a 96% turnover rate for long-haul drivers, who may be shopping for better deals and routes while they’re so readily available.

Considering that fully automated deliveries, including drones and 3D self prints, are possibly ten years in the future, the key to a strong and stable roster of drivers lies in the manpower accessible to logistics professionals. With BCS, we take care to find reliable people, comfortable with cutting edge technology, adaptable to a varied and changing career landscape for today’s logistics professionals. We’re excited about the breakthroughs in technology, but always vigilant to maintain the stalwart professionalism that keeps logistics a massively growing industry.

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