Impact of Autonomous Trucks on Telematics Services, Forecast to 2035
Imagine driving down a freeway and finding trucks with no drivers travelling at highway speeds. Advancements in autonomous driving technologies will soon make fully autonomous driverless trucks a reality on highways.
Autonomous trucking can broadly be categorized into 5 levels (Level 0 – Level 4) based on the following levels of automation - driver-assisted, partial automation, conditional automation and fully automated. Level 2 driver-assisted automated trucks are already poised to enter the market, as they are currently being developed and tested in several countries. Many of the components enabling Level 2 autonomous trucks are already commercially available. Some countries like the US and regions like Europe might even deploy Level 3 partial automation trucks.
Conditional automation and fully automated trucks will not enter the market until 2030. Even though autonomous trucking technology is advancing rapidly, its usability in highly complex and unpredictable city roads has not yet been demonstrated. A more likely scenario is that these autonomous trucks will be utilized on highways and freeways, which are much easier to predict. It is expected that these trucks will run between ‘Transfer Hubs’, delivering and picking up cargo. Drivers are then expected to make the last mile deliveries.
With the advent of such a game changing technology, the future of many supporting industries will undergo massive changes. The telematics industry will be directly affected by this industry-defining transformation. Key telematics services such as vehicle management, driver management, fleet management, and safety & security solutions are expected to evolve from their current applications and find new and diverse applications. While some telematics service providers will gain from these changes, some will lose market shares. Services that support the vehicle system and fleets to operate better will benefit from autonomous technologies, whereas services that aid in driver management and related solutions will be negatively affected, as the role of drivers will reduce with higher automation levels.
However, at least for the next three decades, drivers will be necessary. Their work load will reduce as will the stress of driving; essentially, their roles and responsibilities will evolve but not be done away with.
The study discusses in detail the ways in which the higher automation in the trucking industry will affect the telematics industry and the new challenges and opportunities that come along with it. It also discusses how telematics service providers can better equip themselves in a new era of telematics services.
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