We may still be a long way away from a future where trucks and ships will be controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) alone. But even so, preparing for a future that is more reliant upon autonomous vehicles should remain a priority for corporations that employ vast fleets across multiple geographic regions. Failure to plan for this eventual inevitability would be a mistake for players in the logistics industry.
Some trials have already taken place, such as the 120-mile driverless “beer run” that Anheuser-Busch did in 2016 between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, Colo. However, Lior Ron, co-founder of self-driving truck company Otto, which powered the ride, said that for the foreseeable future AI technologies would merely act as a “co-pilot” to a truck driver.
DHL is due to start testing several autonomous delivery vehicles, including the DHL StreetScooter, in 2018, thanks to cooperation with NVIDIA and ZF, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers. There are many advantages to this technology, both for companies and for the drivers themselves. For starters, we expect autonomous trucks to be much more energy-efficient, and thus both cost-efficient and beneficial for the environment — an important factor for a company like DHL, which has set itself the goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050.
Then there is the job itself. Trucking is hard work — drivers, in particular on long-haul lanes, work long hours and need complete focus at all times. As it is, there is already quite a labor shortage in markets such as the U.S. and the U.K.
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