In recent years, we’ve watched technology revolutionize the biggest industries in the world. The trucking industry could be next. With our current era of accelerated technological progress, innovation is inevitable. Rapid application of new tools could transform the way the trucking industry operates before we know it. From the truck driving simulator to the electric semi truck, a vastly different looking process of transporting goods could be on the not-so-distant horizon.
Electric Semi Truck
Recently inaugurated President Joe Biden’s push for zero emissions has put electric trucks back in the news. With a growing number of prominent federal lawmakers directing their attention to combatting climate change, more focus has been put the production of motor vehicles that emit no waste products that pollute the environment or disrupt the climate. This new demand for environment-friendly transportation, coupled with our ongoing technology boom, creates a unique opportunity for electric semi trucks to burst onto the trucking scene.
Many companies are already trying to step up and become the leading electric transportation company. Tesla touts their electric semi as the “safest, most comfortable truck ever,” also claiming it provides maximum power and acceleration while requiring the lowest energy cost per mile. Volvo is releasing a new regional hauler electric semi truck in 2021, but they’re only able to offer 150 miles of range between charges. The Nikola Two by Nikola Motor Company, however, is starting small-scale production of their electric semi in 2021, which offers up to 900 miles of range per charge.
Suppliers are yet to iron out all of the kinks that come with inventing a new market within the automotive industry, still facing major obstacles such as scale, price points, and battery technology, among other issues. Despite these problems, at some point transportation professionals should be ready for a massive influx of electric trucks in the industry.
Truck Driving Simulator
New technology is reshaping the way driving trainees prepare for their CDL test and future career in the trucking industry with the truck driving simulator. This new invention allows students to learn how to operate a massive commercial motor vehicle by accelerating their knowledge skills, and experience, without ever facing the dangers of actually getting behind the wheel of a real semi.
Truck driving simulators provide students with first-hand experience to see what driving a big rig is actually like, teaching them how and when to shift gears, what their sight lines are, and how it feels to be in the driver’s seat of a tractor trailer, but they don’t have to feel the fear and intimidation that comes with driving a truck for the first time. Anxiety levels are far lower when operating an 18-wheeler simulator when compared to really driving an 18 wheeler, allowing inexperienced student drivers an opportunity to learn.
Truck simulator training is valuable to trucking technology and to the trucking industry at-large for a number of reasons. First, truck simulators provide a fantastic, safe alternative for students who are not yet ready to drive a big rig. Additionally, students can learn hands-on skills, like shifting, significantly faster. Moreover, simulators reduce the cost of truck repairs because beginning drivers often wreak havoc on the trucks that they use to prepare to get on the roads. Truck driving simulators have received high praise from many of the top CDL training programs and it’s reasonable to suspect that these simulators will continue to grow in relevance in coming years.
Self-Driving Semi Trucks
Some companies are also trying to launch tractor trailers that are completely self-reliant from pickup to delivery with no human on board. San Diego startup company TuSimple is set to test its self-driving semi truck as early as this year with the goal of proving that a “driver-out” trucking demonstration isn’t just a science project, but rather an innovative advancement in engineering that has a lot of advantages. By 2024, TuSimple plans to start selling their driverless trucks to fleet operators.
Autonomous trucking companies have received their fair share of blowback because of the logistics and safety of their undertaking. Many believe that no matter how much technology is implemented or how smart trucks get, they’ll always need to have a driver behind the wheel. A future of trucking without truck drivers seems unlikely, as the government will inevitably get involved in the process of regulating any self-driving semi, heavy-duty trucks will always require skill and intuition from the driver, and the supply of autonomous semi trucks isn’t nearly large enough to satisfy the vast trucking industry.
New Trucking Technology
Innovation in the trucking industry presents an abundance of exciting opportunities for truckers and truck driving companies to continue to grow and expand well into the future. Revolutionizing trucking technology trends are soon going to come to fruition to better the thriving industry that we’re already in. Many of these new inventions should be embraced as they will usher in a more profitable, environmentally friendly, and safe life on the road in the coming years.