It’s crazy to think that self-driving cars are no longer mere science fiction. In fact, many experts believe that between a 90% drop in traffic accidents, a drastic drop in car ownership, and more independent living, autonomous cars will change the world as we know it. However, the consequences of this technology for logistics professionals are intensely complex.
Driving efficiency for logistics
Autonomous vehicles are as much a part of a logistic professional’s workday as punching in and out. Robotic forklifts and arms are regular components in the loading and unloading of goods in warehouses. Now, manufacturers are closer than you’d ever imagine to having self-driving trucks cruising the highway.
There are fewer legal liabilities found in transporting goods than there are in transporting people, making this technology an alluring proposition for logistics companies.
Also, businesses will save on fuel and labor and eliminate the need for rest. Self-driving trucks will be able to travel during those less congested off hours, completing deliveries in a far more efficient manner. Given that the industry is short on more than 38,000 truck drivers, and the proliferation of e-commerce, advancements in autonomous truck development may come faster than one might think.
Shifting gears in logistics
There will be obstacles for logistics professionals to face moving forward. If trucks are driving themselves, eventually there’s going to be an odd man out—that being man himself. On top of that, the technology could potentially be hacked and used maliciously to harm other road users.
However, during the initial implementation of self-driving trucks, truckers won’t have to worry about their jobs.
Many believe that truckers will be akin to a ship’s first officer or even an airline pilot, taking over in the face of rough conditions. Navistar President and CEO Troy Clarke hypothesizes that if, for instance, a self-driving truck is on a straight highway with other vehicles, the driver will be managing controls and monitoring a platoon of trucks to ensure shipments are completed correctly and safely.
Whatever road autonomous vehicles take logistics professionals down, it’ll be a road previously untraveled.