Most of the headlines around self-driving technology have focussed on the passenger car segment, but it is trucking that could see the first commercial applications. For transport operators and logistics providers, autonomy offers the promise of improved fuel consumption and operational efficiency along with fewer collisions.
Platooning is emerging as a gateway technology that offers many of the benefits of full autonomy without half of the technological or legal obstacles. This concept that began in the field of bicycle racing has been eagerly applied to trucking, and with impressive results. The cost savings on fuel alone is enough to make a business case for the initial financial outlay, but add in the savings on fewer drivers and it becomes increasingly attractive. As platooning is gradually proven in the field, players may begin to question the need for a driver in the second or third vehicle. Imagine a single driver leading a fleet of three heavy trucks across the highway. At some point, even this lead truck driver may disappear.
In theory, self-driving trucks need not be bound by today’s hours of service restrictions, meaning they could potentially run until they need to refuel. Truly driverless vehicles will also open up new possibilities on design. With no driver there is little need for a cab, so that can disappear. Volvo’s already playing around with this idea in its Vera concept. But take this a step further and why not get rid of the truck as well and simply motorise the trailer?
This Automotive World report sheds further light on these and many of the other ideas, partnerships and projects emerging from industry players today.
In this report:
- Executive summary
- Expectations must be managed for autonomous truck success
- Sooner than we think: Volvo’s Vera concept is anything but far-fetched
- Mitsubishi Fuso’s trucks are heading for Level 4
- Safe and efficient: autonomous trucking from the supplier perspective
- Supplying the autonomous truck: two partners, one turnkey solution
- Testing lies at the heart of autonomous truck success
- Could platooning be a stepping stone to autonomous trucking?
- Remote control trucks – a human safety net for AVs?
- Logistics companies prepare for autonomous trucking
- Last mile delivery needs AVs – and the human touch
‘Special report: The path to the autonomous truck’ includes insight from experts at a range of leading truck industry stakeholder companies, including:
- Volvo Trucks
- Mitsubishi Fuso
- The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA)
- ACT Research
- Starsky Robotics
- DHL Supply Chain
- DPD Germany