A Detailed Commercialization Analysis of Autonomous Vehicle Technology in the Trucking Industry

  • Courier and Parcel — Companies that transport mail and small goods (e.g., UPS, FedEx, USPS). The courier and parcel operator market is consolidated with most of the market share taken up by the top three providers.
  • Private — Companies that transport their own goods (e.g., Walmart, Kroger). There are more than 700,000 private fleet operators registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA).
  • For-hire — Companies that are paid to transport goods that they do not own (e.g., J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation, Hub Group). The for-hire operator market is large and extremely fragmented. Over 890,000 for-hire carriers are registered with the FMCSA and over 90% of carriers operate six or fewer trucks.
  • Reduced barriers for trucking companies to form
  • Removed the need to “purchase” trucking routes
  • Increased price competition
  • Demand — e-commerce activity in the United States is at an all time high. US retail e-commerce sales reached $315B in 2018 and is expected to reach $565B by 2023. The trucking industry will continue to grow as more consumers rely on shipping to retrieve their purchased goods. Increased freight demands — along with rapidly growing consumer expectations for expedient delivery — will push the trucking industry to find ways to innovate and expand.
  • Supply — Although the freight market has been growing, driver shortages have become a major issue across the industry. The American Trucking Associations estimate that the driver shortage has reached around 60,000 and is expected to grow. Additionally, the quality of life for truckers in the long haul trucking space is arguably very challenging as suicide rates are among the top five professions in the country.
  • Technology — Electrification and automation are the two technology trends that are garnering the most investment in the trucking space — and notably so. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, fuel and driver costs make up 24% and 43% of motor carrier costs respectively. Both fuel costs and driver costs have been increasing due to higher fuel prices and the wage raises required to attract additional drivers.
  • Improved fuel economies
  • Increased utilization
  • Reduced accidents
  • Truck motion control and driving functions — truck drivers are better than car drivers at managing the effect of high winds (e.g., 45 MPH) on the truck’s trailer.
  • Shock profiles — the area close to the cabin is built for comfort, but the chastity or lower areas of the vehicle will expose sensors to significant levels of vibration.
  • Truck shape and size — sensors can only be placed on the truck trailer since shipping containers will be interchanged across different modes of transport. Additionally, the added dimensions and weight of a truck require further calibration of the AV technology.
  1. Object Detection — A sensor identifies a nearby object.
  2. Object Tracking — Sensors identify if object is moving or not.
  3. Object Classification — Identify what an object is: bike, animal, tire, kid, bag, etc.
  4. Object Prediction — Predict what the object will do next. What they are going to do is more important than what they are doing. Pedestrians are harder to predict which makes prediction on highways easier.
  5. Path Planning — How does the truck plan to navigate around the object?
  6. Control the Vehicle — Execute path (i.e. adjust the wheel X amount of degrees from center).
  • Fleet Operators (Carriers)
  • Shippers
  1. Long-haul trucking would previously have to encounter inconsistent regulations across different states. A federal standard, as deemed pursued by the FMCSA, would help remove uncertainty.
  2. The truck drivers, who are already hindered in their ability to unionize (per the diminished state of unions such as Teamsters), will face an uphill battle without support from the federal government to prolong automated technology. That is unless it can be shown to bring risk to the DoT’s objective around safety.
  • Interest Groups: Teamsters, Big Trucking Companies, Manufacturers
  • Congress
  • Bureaucracy: Department of Transportation or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Executive Branch and Regulators
  • Unit of Economics
  • Technological Feasibility
  • Non-Market Risks
  • We will provide safety
  • We will remain technology neutral
  • We will modernize regulations
  • We will encourage a consistent regulatory and operational environment
  • We will prepare proactively for automation
  • We will protect and enhance the freedoms enjoyed by Americans
  1. Professional from a Technology Supplier
  2. Annie Kadavy, Redpoint Ventures & former Uber Freight
  3. Professional from an Infrastructure Company
  4. Professional from the Transportation Management Space
  5. Professional from a Technology Supplier
  6. Trucking Operator and Investor
  7. Professional from an OEM
  8. Professional from a Technology Company
  9. Professional focusing on Transportation Policy
  10. Professional from a Technology Company
  11. Katherine Casey, Associate Professor of Political Economy at Stanford University
  12. Keith Hennessey, Lecturer in Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Former Economic Advisor to President George W Bush
  13. Truck Carrier Operator
  14. Michael Ostrovsky, Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business
  15. Professional from a Technology Company
  16. Professional from a Technology Company
  17. Technology Investor
  18. Head of Transportation for an Agriculture Company
  19. Sven Bieker, Lecturer at Stanford University and Founder of Silicon Valley Mobility
  20. Transportation Investor
  21. Professional from a Technology Company

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Automation, Logistics, Sustainability, Blockchain

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Michael Wishart

Michael Wishart

Automation, Logistics, Sustainability, Blockchain

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