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“A human truck driver usually takes five days to go from New York to Los Angeles. It'll take an autonomous truck 48 hours", said Patrick Penfield, Professor of Supply Chain Practices at Syracuse University, in a BBC interview into the future of trucking.
The economic benefits of automated trucking on the supply chain are huge: goods will flow from origin to destination more efficiently and seamlessly. After all, computers don't need to stop for a bathroom break or a nap. Driverless trucks will be safer too and help alleviate a steady increase in the number of crashes on the roads.
According to research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about 130,000 people suffer injuries from truck accidents every year, and truck crashes are up 52% since their lowest point in 2009. With sensors, location technology and artificial intelligence, computer drivers have a suite of systems that will allow them to predict and avoid incidents. It makes our senses of eyesight and sound seem archaic in comparison.
So, automated trucks can't come soon enough, or can they? It's an industry that's in rapid ascent. The global semi and fully autonomous truck market is expected to reach US$88.1 billion by 2027 and grow at 10.1% year-on-year, according to statistics recently published by Acumen Research and Consulting.
The reality is that driverless trucks are still a few years away yet. Some of the world's leading experts in machine learning predict that automated trucks will take to the roads in 2027 at the earliest.
However, location technology is increasingly bridging the gap between where we are now and full autonomy. It can bring immediate benefits to fleets in terms of efficiency, productivity and safety, both in the cabin and the warehouse.
With HERE Maps, for instance, a “truck attributes" feature allows logistics managers to identify the safest, most cost-efficient and easiest routes. “They can easily see (on the map) all kinds of driving restrictions relevant for trucks, such as height, weight, hazardous goods, restrictions for deliveries in pedestrian zones etc, but they can also visualize truck stops for refueling, food, rest or a little exercise time," said Jørgen Behrens, Chief Product Officer at HERE.
“And there's the driving analysis use case in which logistics companies want to better understand the actual routes already driven by their drivers: do they match to the originally planned routes, or were there deviations? If so, why?
"Did the driver adhere to the posted speed limits, were they speeding...?" adds Jørgen. “This use case can be enabled with HERE Route Matching and advanced data sets location services. [They] can re-calculate the driven routes by leveraging collected GPS probes, and then compare those data sets with pre-compiled premium map data content, such as posted speed limits, truck attributes, or toll costs."
From saving fuel and time to keeping your drivers and cargo safe, location technology from HERE enables fleets to benefit now from the technology that will soon shape the future of the trucking industry.
For Eleos Technologies, which creates apps for trucking companies to help them work better, HERE was the obvious choice when it wanted to “free drivers from the cab." Kevin Survance, Eleos CEO and co-founder said of the decision to choose HERE as its location technology partner: “We needed a platform that would allow us to build our own version of the driver experience."