What is the future of trucking? Many say it will come down to autonomous trucks and self-driving vehicles, which will dominate the Trucking Industry. What does this mean for small-sized trucking companies and owner-operators? What changes are expected to shape the Trucking Industry in the next 10 years? Let’s find out.
1. The Introduction of Self-Driving Trucks
The Trucking Industry is on the verge of a seismic shift, with companies like Uber and Tesla developing autonomous or self-driving trucks. These trucks are automated, but they need to be supervised by a human. As per one report by Acumen Research and Consulting, the autonomous truck market will reach an approximate value of $88 billion and grow at a rate of 10.1% between 2020 and 2027. The trucks could represent new opportunities in terms of cost savings and efficiency since they can operate 24 hours and drive at a more consistent mileage rate enabling faster and cost-efficient deliveries.
While this may be good news, it will require a significant investment for large and small trucking companies, as well as owner-operators. However, many trucking companies not be able to make this shift too quickly.
2. Ongoing Shortage of Truck Drivers
There is an ongoing shortage of local, regional, and OTR Professional Truck Drivers in the United States. So much so that companies are trying to recruit drivers from abroad. Some trucking companies have also increased their budget but are still having trouble finding suitable candidates.
The primary reasons for this include low pay, spending long hours on the road, and the age requirement for regulated driving, which is currently 21. The rate at which Professional Truck Drivers are retiring, the lifestyle, and lower pay due to several factors play a significant role in what is causing the shortage.
The problem isn’t limited to the United States either and appears to be a global issue.
3. New Technologies Replacing Manual Labor
Autonomous trucks aren’t the only innovation that could shape the future of trucking. There are several other technologies that are making an impact here. Most prominently, we are seeing the use of robots that help load and unload trucks in warehouses, thereby reducing the need to hire laborers for the job. These robots can be used to pick up items, pack them and transport them between staging areas. They may also be used to transfer items from the truck to storage areas for inventory, etc.
While the use of these robots isn’t mainstream yet, it could still influence the Trucking Industry in the future by making the loading and unloading process faster and more efficient. It might also reduce the chances of damage inflicted on the items due to human error as well as injuries to warehouse workers.
The future of trucking is largely focused on automation and innovations by introducing autonomous trucks and other technologies. That said, the Trucking Industry is also facing a labor crisis, with more and more Professional Truck Drivers retiring or flat out quitting and making it difficult for companies to retain new drivers in the long term.
The Trucking Industry also needs to account for how current Professional Truck Drivers may suffer if self-driving/autonomous trucks become mainstream. This will certainly diminish or even completely wipe out income opportunities and lead to widespread unemployment. The Trucking Industry must consider measures that protect its Professional Truck Drivers while still embracing new opportunities.
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Written by: Fr8 World Logi$tix.