Labor Shortages and Potential for Fuel Savings driving logistics providers toward autonomous vehicle technology by Taj Shahram
As we draw closer to a fully autonomous future, new opportunities arise in the field of logistics and transportation to increase mobility, transportation efficiency and safety. To make this happen, the infrastructure of cities has to be redesigned to support self-driving vehicles. Highway planners in Wisconsin are already thinking about the possibility of creating a driverless vehicle lane on I-94 to accommodate Foxconn’s large factory in Racine County.
Furthermore, self-driving trucks are planned to be introduced in the market. The trucking industry is currently short 50,000 drivers, because drivers either retire or quit. Self-driving trucks can help solve this problem. Embark, a start-up company, is already hauling Frigidaire refrigerators along I-10 from El Paso, Texas to Palm Spring, California using a self-driving truck, but with a driver on board for now. Similarly, Uber has delivered 50,000 cans of beer using a Level 3 autonomous truck along the I-25. Level 3 refers to vehicles self-driving most of the time, but a driver needs to be ready to take over control.
Beginning with Alphabet’s self-driving car project in 2009, companies such as Lyft, Uber, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Ford have also started testing their vehicles to achieve level 4 autonomy. Major automakers are planning on having fully autonomous cars by 2020. This is an ambitious goal, but there has been a lot of progress in the past few years. For example, Nvidia CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, states that the Audi-Nvidia collaboration will introduce level 3 autonomous vehicle into the market this year.
The technology to achieve level 4 autonomy is progressing quickly. Automakers, ride sharing companies, and others have devoted time and effort to make this a reality.
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