Self-driving trucks is getting a lot of attention from technology giants across the globe. Source: Shutterstock

Self-driving trucks is getting a lot of attention from technology giants across the globe. Source: Shutterstock

Is self-driving technology more valuable in trucks than in cars?

SELF-DRIVING cars have been the focus of almost every automaker for the better part of the last decade, and much progress that has been reported. However, it seems as though the trucking industry needs the technology more than everyday consumers — and technology companies such as Google’s Waymo agree.

Recently, Waymo CEO John Krafcik told political and industry leaders at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany that although ride-hailing is an important application of its self-driving technology, the company is exploring other applications in trucking.

“Our technology can also make trucking safer and stronger, and fill a pressing need for more drivers in many parts of the world.

“We’ve already conducted road tests of the Waymo Driver in Class 8 trucks across the US, and we’re working closely with the ecosystem — shippers, truck makers, and Tier One suppliers — to ensure a successful deployment.”

The company has made significant progress with the technology over the past decade, and although it’s a major player in the US, it has strong competition from China’s TuSimple which has already made inroads in the US and bagged a partnership with US-based logistics giant UPS.

What exactly makes self-driving trucks so valuable?

The demand for logistics services is booming because global, cross-border commerce is thriving.

The trucking industry, which makes most of everyday commerce possible, is seeing the number of drivers dwindling year-on-year and compensation (regular and overtime) rising steadily.

Further, there are issues surrounding the safety and security of drivers that are getting more complicated every year — and for good reason.

As a result, supply chain managers, especially those dealing with road transport, are looking for a way to not only overcome the odds that seem to stack up against the trucking industry but also meet rising demand in a way that keeps costs in check.

Self-driving trucks present the perfect solution. TuSimple, in various examples, has shown how self-driving trucks can not only ensure reliable trucking services but also ensure road safety.

Further, self-driving trucks present various other benefits to organizations, including cost optimization, goods security, and insurance advantages.

Overall, in the near future, there’s a high chance that self-driving trucks will make a debut sooner than self-driving cars — on a commercial scale — simply because that’s where the demand is.

Automakers and technology companies that can accelerate the launch of road-ready self-driving trucks will definitely reap great rewards, and companies like Waymo and TuSimple look like they’re just about to make a breakthrough.