Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Autonomous Truck: Bliss or Curse for the Future of Container Transport Industry

Autonomous Truck Debate
Image by Pixabay

With the advanced technology going into driverless cars, logistics and transportation were always going to follow soon after. In 2015 Daimler Trucks North America has launched their brand new line of Freightliner trucks intended for road use. The difference is that these trucks are autonomous vehicles intended to allow drivers and semi-truck transportation companies enhanced efficiency.

It isn’t only Daimler who has forayed into the autonomous vehicle market, as Mercedes-Benz has also launched an autonomous truck capable of taking over the main task of getting from A to B and handing the driver the free time to control the more technical side of logistics. But are these Freightliner Trucks the first sign that the robot overlords are taking our roads from us? In this article we will be discussing some key points regarding that.

Routing Delivery Schedules for Refrigerated Goods

There are huge benefits to be gained from the use of autonomous vehicles in logistics and container transport systems around the world, and even for daily tasks such as a refrigerated transport service that relies on deadlines and schedules.

Traditional refrigerated trucks rely on good time keeping and efficient delivery routes, so having an autonomous system to calculate the best routes based on vehicle speed, direction and refrigerated goods perishable rates is a fantastic addition to any logistics company.

Increased Safety Standards

Safety is one of the main points of creation when it comes to container transport and good transportation, so it comes as little wonder that the autonomous vehicles designed to operate with minimal or no human control gets us around the issue of human error.

In tests it has been shown that human error has caused the majority known accidents with autonomous vehicles, so taking away the biggest risk and having vehicles that are kept to even more stringent safety standards is surely the autonomous vehicle’s greatest safety feature.

More Efficient Use of Labour

Truck drivers are expected to keep to a legal framework of safe working hours with plenty of breaks in-between, so choosing an autonomous transport service will reduce the hours being driven by each driver, and allow them to keep track off their schedule and carry out any housekeeping duties such as stock checking, delivery updates and contacting clients whilst on the road.

The Freightliner Inspiration truck has been marketed as a truck that, with autonomous driving will be able to be a bonus to a driver’s tasks and allow them to keep track of their schedule without having to stop the vehicle.

Human Error and Safety Concerns

One of the major concerns that many clients such as refrigerated transport companies may have is about the safety aspect of autonomous vehicles. As has been said, many tests have shown that in each case of the extremely low levels of accidents involving autonomous vehicles of all sorts, the fault of the accident has been found in human error.

In the case of the Daimler Freightliner Inspiration, the autonomous driving by the truck itself can be stopped at any time and the controls handed over to a human driver at any moment. The main autonomy of the vehicle is to take over control on long stretches of road where concentration in a driver may be diverted for a second.

In these cases, the vehicle will be able to maintain its position in the lane and in relative distance from other road vehicles, maintain its speed and direction in line with the specific road’s speed limit.

Robots are Taking Our Jobs!

Much is talked about automated and robotic tasks having a negative effect on the workforce in terms of taking away peoples jobs. In some instances of manual labour and manufacturing processes this may be the case, but when it comes to drivers, there will always be the need for a human to accompany the vehicle.

Whether this is for signing off on tasks, keeping the vehicle maintained and serviced for its automated controls and ensuring that safety of the autonomous vehicle is maintained at all times. A human driver will always be required to check the tires, fill up the fuel and hit the cut-off switch to avoid other vehicles colliding with the truck itself.

A New Era for Refrigerated Transport Services

In terms of efficiency, reliability and dependability you can see why so many refrigerated transport services are looking to autonomous vehicles to shape their fleet of the future. Storage container transport services rely on time-keeping and updating of deliveries and pick-ups, so having an automated system which can keep you on track independent of the types of roads you are travelling on will open a new era in reliable deliveries.

Future Refrigerated Truck
123RF Images

Shipping container transport will also see a huge boost in productivity due to the often lengthy distance between ports and their destinations. In the future, we may well see fully autonomous container ships, logistics vehicles and container transport become fully automated and even your next refrigerated truck may well be an autonomous vehicle, ready to add efficiency to your business that you may never though would be possible.

At OFE Refrigerated Transport, we’re constantly searching for new technology in transport industry – not just because we’re in the business for a long time, because new ideas helps us to serve our clients efficiently. And we will continue to do so and share our insights with you all. Stay in touch to our blog and together, let’s make a useful sharing network.