AI in the transportation field is believed to grow its market size to $10.3 billion in next 10 years. Many companies in trucking industry are going in direction of being fully automated. Due to law changes in some states in the US, self-driving trucks are going to be able to drive in a group of two or more. Waymo – american company (leader in autonomous driving technology) contacted with german company Daimler (truck industry) and they decided to collaborate and deliver Level 4 (High Driving Automation) vehicles. That means trucks will be able to react and intervene, if there is a dangerous situation on the road. However system does not require human interaction in most of the cases, it still has an option to manually override. For now Level 4 vehicles can only operate within urban area where average speed is 30mph. Waymo’s projects are now mostly focused on highway transportation and small freight carriers.
Before this collaboration american company has been testing their technology in driverless cars in Arizona. They started a project with fully automated taxi service. Why so many people see it as the future? AI is commonly used in predicting and detecting traffic conditions. Because of the highways, trucks with AI technology will not only save money and lower emissions, but also increase efficiency. Without any human interactions needed, we can manage our deliveries in a simplier way. In other way adding AI reduces operational cost. We have to hire less people and the machines are working every day without a break. With programmed possible paths of pedestrian and cyclists, the possibility of an accident will decrease.
Unfortunately, current technology cannot replace humans entirely. Beside driving, truck drivers are also taking care of loading, inspection of the vehicles and customer service. Issue which I should have mentioned first, is very high costs of creation and more important – maintenance. If a company wants the system to constantly observe the traffic and improve itself based on patterns, the software and hardware need to be updated very often. Another con is that machines do not have emotions, so whether we want or not, we have to program them to choose in a fatal situation. For example we have to decide, if we are making the driver’s or the pedestrian’s life a priority. AI is the next step in logistics and transport development. There will always be pros and cons of every progressive thought, but we can not be intimidated by it. With using out of box thinking, this technology could become very useful to us and help us improve our skills in managing communication.