Will Technology Solve the Trucking Industry's Problems?

by Jana Ritter - Published: 9/24/2014

We all know that while the trucking industry is thriving with the rebounding economy, it’s also facing a number of problems: A Driver Shortage, Fatigued Drivers, HOS Rules and Safety. Now that technology is nearing the point of making self-driving vehicles a reality, many are beginning to question if it could eventually be the all-encompassing solution for the future of the trucking industry.

Future Truck Driving

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While it’s the big trucks that the entire country depends on to drive long hours and overnight to deliver the very goods that sustain everyday life, its also the big trucks carrying the biggest responsibility and public scrutiny for safety concerns on US roadways. Could new technologies such as collision sensory, auto-adaptive cruise control, lane departure systems and speed control radar be the umbrella solution to improve overall safety for the industry? Would it be the ideal solution to aiding drivers burdened with long hours of driving and attract more to the industry, or would it eventually mean that robots would be taking over truck driver jobs entirely?

Take for instance, the Mercedes-Benz Truck 2025 model that the company recently unveiled as a preview of the future. As the German motor company specifically designed the truck primarily to reduce driver error and increase safety, its innovative technology has features that can automatically anticipate traffic and road construction conditions to allow for more efficient braking and accelerating control mechanisms. The truck also uses sensory technology that can automatically detect nearby objects and maintain a consistent and safe distance from other vehicles.

But perhaps the most important feature unveiled in this future truck model, was the good ol’ steering wheel and images of drivers in the cab of the truck, focused on the tablet computer control system. It’s the good possibility that even the most innovative technology can’t surpass the need for humans at the helm. Would an even better possibility be that truck drivers may eventually become more like conductor/communication specialists requiring more advanced computer skills to handle radar system cameras, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications using a touch screen high-resolution graphics display?

Judging from the interior of the Mercedes-Benz model, which looks more like a fancy executive suite with a reclining chair rather than a driver’s seat - it could very well be this way. Perhaps then, if truck driver positions began to require a new realm of technology driven skills, then the future pay would get a serious upgrade as well.

What would you like to see for the future trucking industry?

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