ExpressIFTA Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Technologies That Will Change Trucking

Let’s face it, Trucking Nation. Technology will always be changing. Just a few years ago, you’d have to be a millionaire to even own a cell phone. Now, everybody owns a phone and it can do everything short of driving your rig for you.

On that note, engineers tell us we’re just a few years away from having the automated automobile apocalypse. But we know better than anybody else that there’s still a need for a good, seasoned driver and that ain’t changing anytime soon.

But what will be changing over the next few decades? A recently released study from the Department of Transportation (pdf link) breaks it down for us. Here are 5 technologies that will change trucking.

The Internet of Things

One of the newer technologies coming is the Internet of Things (IoT). This sounds strange, but it’s basically how appliances, devices, and goods will use the internet to communicate. How does this change trucking? By monitoring technology and adapting practices, companies will gather tons of data on the freight industry, including manned and autonomous driving. What would be the benefits for a driver? Well, you could have increased health monitoring, ranging from heart health to hazard detection.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Unmana-what? Oh yeah, you know them as drones. There’s been a lot of talk about drones over the last few years, so how does this specifically affect trucking? Large companies like Amazon are already working on drone delivery programs, which if successful you can expect to spread throughout the transportation industry.

Infrastructure Management

Now this one doesn’t sound too bad! We’ve all been stuck on the highway at a snail’s pace thanks to road construction at least once. By combining the internet of things and automation, our roads and bridges can be maintained faster with automated infrastructure repair systems. Not only that, but long term data analysis of roads will allow for smarter routes and road improvements over time.

3D Printing

There are plenty of amazing things happening with 3D printing – we’ve seen cheaper prosthetics, plastic guns, and even human organs are said to be coming in the future. Like we said, amazing. But there is the question of reduced freight and the decreased need for transportation. How is that? Well, instead of hauling completed goods around the country, industries would simply need raw materials. Freight will still exist, but the need could be reduced. Now, there could be a silver lining. For the drivers who stay in the game, trucking routes will stay to a smaller region, since freight hubs might become decentralized and focused on replenishing the 3D printers.

Automated Vehicles

Alright, it’s the 800 lb elephant in the room. Everybody hears how this is gonna kill jobs – and we’re not saying it won’t. As automation increases, there will be new fields growing, like automated vehicle operation – think drone operators, but on the road. And until they master automated freight loading, emergency training, and vehicle maintenance, drivers will still be around. Even when automation becomes a reality, there will still be drivers in the seats monitoring the equipment. So we think we’ll still see drivers for a few more decades.

There’s no way around it, transportation technology is going to change. But for the moment, we’re still worrying about reckless four-wheelers and IFTA late filing penalties. If you have any issues filing, feel free to reach out to us for help.

What do you think the future holds for the trucking industry?



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