Tag Archives: self-driving vehicles

Tesla’s Semi: Is the Future Here?

Elon Musk announced the Tesla’s electric tractor-trailer undertaking last summer, and it turned out to be a subject of heated debates and anticipation ever since. Originally scheduled for October 26th, the big reveal got pushed back to November 16, 2017.

Finally ending the suspense, the Tesla CEO unveiled their electric semi-truck to the excited cheering crowd in Hawthorne, CA and to the rest of the world last Thursday. In case you missed the great unveil, it doesn’t exactly look like the typical truck we are all used to; it’s quite a bit futuristic – and we would expect nothing different from Tesla. Elon Musk’s presentation makes it sound like it is will quickly revolutionize and forever change the transportation industry.

iStock-605780520.jpgSo, what is Tesla offering?

It’s an-all electric tractor-trailer which will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph significantly faster than a regular truck (while fully loaded) and go at 65 mph. It will go 500 miles on one charge at the max speed and loaded up to the max GVW, which is more than initially anticipated. 30-minute charge should be enough for 400 miles.

Tesla semi will not be self-driving, but it will offer advanced autopilot features including automatic emergency breaking and lane keeping, which will help increase the safety of the driver and those around. Additionally, the driver will be seated in the center position and the windshield will be practically unbreakable.

To top it off, Musk guarantees you a break-free million miles and chargers in vast abundance. All that comes in a shape of an eco-friendly electric truck which should only cost $1.26 per mile to run versus $1.51 for a diesel truck.

This definitely sounds like a revolution in a transportation industry! However, the heated debate is not over. While it does sounds extremely exciting, the question remains – how much will it cost to invest in one of these?

While an approximate price of $200,000 for a co-presented Roadster has been announced, it still remains unclear what we can expect when it comes to the semi. As Musk casually noted himself, “Tesla stuff is expensive”. Tesla’s current struggle with the production of Model 3 doesn’t help defeat the scepticism around the semi.

The production is scheduled for 2019, and despite the fact the price has not been announced yet, a number of companies, such as Walmart, J.B. Hunt and Loblaw have already pre-ordered a few of these trucks for their fleets.

The electric truck of the future sounds great “on paper”, raises logical concerns – we will wait and see! What do you think?


Self-driving Trucks: The Future of the Transportation Industry

Countless movies covered it, humans expected it, and now the future is here. Self-driving vehicles are upon us. Self-driving vehicle technology is currently one of the most discussed topics in the transportation industry – and might be one of the most controversial ones.

Could you imagine a few years ago, that it would be the actual thing? But here we are and it’s becoming real. Uber has developed self-driving cars that are already in use. Technology is reshaping all aspects of our lives, including logistics and supply chain – will self-driving trucks be a blessing or a curse for the industry?

All those in favor, say:

Eliminating human error

Human error is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. Software doesn’t text and drive, violate traffic regulations or drive drunk. Cutting these out of equation may contribute to fewer accidents and overall better road safety.

iStock-692819426.jpgReducing traffic jams

Software can analyse and evaluating traffic data, and choosing better routes without a human behind the steering wheel trying to decide which road to take. Moreover, much of traffic is caused by drivers violating traffic regulations, trying to squeeze in and save a few minutes – and contributing to the congestion.

More efficient shipping

For supply chain, self-driving trucks mean faster transit times (software doesn’t need 8 hours of sleep), enhanced tracking options and fewer delays which will contribute to better and more reliable service. Reducing driver costs and maximizing fuel efficiency with smarter routes and traffic evaluation will affect and potentially lower shipping expenses.

All those opposed, say:

Is it safer though?

Of course, self-driving trucks comply with all traffic regulations and eliminate human error – but what about other vehicles, operated by real human drivers? Software lacks human intuition and might not be capable of reacting properly in an unexpected situation. Having both, driverless and regular vehicles on the road may trigger more traffic accidents, especially at the beginning of this transition.



Software vulnerability

Recently, we have witnessed a variety of example of software vulnerability. We have also found out that no matter how sophisticated the security systems are, they might be hacked as well. Whether ‘just for fun’, or for financial profit – purely technology-operated vehicles are potentially vulnerable. Even if unintentional – how often does your phone or computer glitch? In this case, it may cause serious consequences.

Job cuts

Probably one of the most widely discussed cons of this new technology. The drivers are an essential part of the transportation industry – self-driving trucks will completely change the whole industry as it is. Will it eliminate all drivers? Probably not, but it’s likely to spike unemployment and put a number of drivers out of a job as the attention will be shifting from currently required driver skills to more technology-oriented ones.

What do you think about the potential impact self-driving technology will have on the industry?

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Read next: Automated Trucks are Here: How Should Drivers Prepare?3.4 Million Drivers Not Enough

8 Things We Know About Uber-Otto Technology

The trucking industry has a reputation for being low-margin, highly fragmented and cyclical. Many tech companies have an interest in shaking up and rethinking the industry.

  1. Uber has publicly introduced self-driving cars, but almost none of those driven miles are entirely autonomous. Uber’s self-driving cars are picking up passengers in Pittsburgh, PA.
  2. Uber Technologies, Inc. acquired self-driving truck startup, Otto, for $680 million. Uber-Otto is aiming to establish itself as a freight hauler and a tech partner in the logistics industry.
  3. Otto’s autonomous technology allows trucks to drive themselves on roads, but keeps two copilots on board since handling the open highways is a challenge. A trailer full of Budweiser beer drove itself 120 miles down Colorado’s I-25 in October 2016, with no one behind the wheel. Uber-Otto teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev for the delivery, which is the first time an autonomous truck made a commercial shipment.
  4. Industry observers don’t expect immediate buy-in to Uberization in trucking. Stifel analyst John Larkin said, “Shippers are simply not going to turn over a $250,000 load to a company that has the technology, but little knowledge or experience in the highly nuanced world of freight transportation.” The Department of Transportation generated a 112-page document to confirm that those working on self-driving tech prioritize safety and share valid, non-proprietary data.
  5. Ultimately, Uber wants to change the competitive logistics landscape and Otto truck technology plans to partner with the industry. Uber and Otto are working to build a freight network that will connect shippers and carriers, similar to Uber’s model of matching passengers and drivers.
  6. Other companies are developing technology, too. Ford said it would have a fully autonomous vehicle in service by 2021. Tesla announced plans for an electric semi-truck. Uber has a 300-million-dollar partnership with Volvo to assist each other in developing self-driving technology.
  7. Morgan Stanley research anticipates that advanced transportation technology, including autonomous driving systems, platooning and electrification of trucking will offer carriers up to a 75% reduction in costs.
  8. Uber has launched another project, Uber Elevate, to bring flying cars to commuters by 2026. The VTOL aircraft would be able to travel at 150 mph for up to 100 miles and carry multiple passengers, including a pilot.

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A Fully Automated Transportation Industry is Closer than You Think

infrastructure.jpgOver the last 30 years, the American population has increased 35%. It’s expected that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. These facts amplify the pressure to correct infrastructure in order to support the movement of goods and people, and minimize related environmental impacts.

Although America’s multimodal freight system is proficient, moving approximately 63 tons of goods per American each year, the demand for more efficient freight moves is rising. The movement of goods is critical to economic strength.

Growth in freight demand will increase stress on freight bottlenecks. Estimates show that by 2040, nearly 30,000 miles of America’s busiest highways will be clogged daily. Truck congestion will waste $27 billion in time and fuel economy annually.

To improve surface transportation and other transportation-related challenges, the USDOT and Google’s Sidewalk Labs put together a program to develop the world’s first smart city.

What is a smart city? A smart city is a city that seeks to address urban issues through information and communication technology-based solutions. A smart city’s goal is to improve the quality of life by using real-time data to improve services and needs.

Smart city initiatives are largely dependent on collecting the right kind of data, analyzing patterns and optimizing systems functions.

Smart Cities Provide Opportunities for Supply Chain Management

With open data systems from several sources, supply chains can become more mobile.

Example 1. If a city’s traffic management system senses congestion, traffic signals can be changed and drivers’ can receive a cell phone alert. Additionally, smart traffic management will provide short-term estimates of traffic’s flow and speed, improving routing and planning.

Example 2. Self-driving vehicles, whether a commercial truck or personal car, will save fuel, improve safety and improve productivity. These vehicles equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-road (V2R) communication will considerably enhance transportation. This technology can exchange information about traffic and weather in relation to a vehicle’s specific location and speed, improving the general movement of vehicles without investing in physical infrastructure.

How Will Automated Vehicles Change Shipping?

52% of Americans believe autonomous driving is the transport method of the future.

But, there are already autonomous vehicles on our roads. As transportation transforms, it creates solutions for city challenges like congestion, pollution and traffic management. Automation and robotics will affect all modes of transportation while reducing infrastructure maintenance and transportation.jpgimproving travel safety.

 “Transportation is a really simple idea.
We want to move ourselves
or our things from one place to another
efficiently, reliably and safely.” –Anthony Foxx 

According to a DHL report, there is a strong case for the logistics industry to adopt self-driving vehicles much faster than other industries, because liability issues are less when a vehicle is transporting goods, not people.

Automation has the potential to reduce or eliminate human error. When a shipment is delayed, the bottom line suffers. With a self-driving vehicle, there is more safety and reliability.

In a world where roads are full of driverless trucks and cars moving in sync with each other, road accidents will disappear and commutes will be safe. Equipped with sensor technology, self-driving trucks can help drivers react faster to oncoming danger and calculate the safest maneuver. This could drastically reduce the number and severity of accidents.

A key challenge to the full introduction of driverless vehicles is public acceptance and regulations. Today, autonomous driving on public roads is restricted by law. Any autonomous vehicles that are on the road must have a driver present to control the vehicle at all times.

There is skepticism about self-driving vehicles among the public. 60% of drivers believe they make better decisions behind the wheel versus a computer.

Smart cities will be driven by new technology, especially the widely anticipated adoption of autonomous vehicles. While our smart future is full of benefits like safety and sustainability, we are only at the beginning of the road.

As the technology of vehicles and cities advance, more improvements will be made and the logistics world will be changed – a truck can drive itself and work in tandem with roads to avoid congestion and reduce emissions, and get goods to their destination quickly and reliably… and this technology-infused future is quickly becoming reality.

What do you think about smart cities and self-driving cars?

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