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Artificial Intelligence: The Trucking Industry’s Biggest Asset

Trucking Industry

Artificial Intelligence: The Trucking Industry’s Biggest Asset

About 3.6 million professional truck drivers and another 7.95 million people work in the U.S. trucking industry. It’s an industry well-positioned to benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the AI market within the transportation industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 18% between 2017 and 2030, and its size increase from $1.2 billion in 2017 to $10.3 billion in 2030.

Truck manufacturers including Daimler, Volvo, Navistar, Paccar and others, have already begun developing autonomous truck technology, for example. Waymo, an American autonomous driving technology development company has also installed self-driving technology in semi-trucks and plans to test on haulage routes in New Mexico and Texas. Tesla plans to deliver its first trucks in 2021. Pittsburgh-based Locomotion, an autonomous trucking technology company, expects to equip at least 1,120 Wilson Logistics tractors with its Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) technology starting in 2022.

In addition to autonomous driving, the trucking industry has the potential to reap many benefits from AI technology in accident prevention and safety, fuel efficiency, route optimization and workflow management.

Accident prevention and safety

One hundred percent autonomous driving may be a ways off, but already we’re seeing safety controls incorporated into trucks. For example, a Tesla computer will control its trucks’ semi-autonomous system for accelerating, brakes and steering — though drivers will still need to keep a hand on the wheel.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised its HOS to provide more flexibility for drivers. However, many drivers still log 11 hours on the road each day — the potential for mistakes increases during the later period of a driving shift. AI-guided semi-autonomous trucks will help reduce safety hazards created from tired or distracted driving.

Fuel efficiency

One commercial truck can use over $70,000 of fuel each year. Multiply this amount by the number of trucks in a fleet, and you can see why trucking companies constantly search for strategies to improve fuel efficiency. AI-guided, self-driven trucks could cut fuel costs up to 15%, according to Plus (formerly A U.C. Berkeley Labor Center report estimated the industry could save $35 billion in fuel efficiency gains. Additionally, fuel monitoring and idle reporting features within AI-powered fleet management software platforms can help managers monitor fuel usage to reduce waste and costs.

Fleet management and route optimization

AI offers the perfect partner for fleet managers, increasing their effectiveness and helping to streamline and make processes more efficient. For example, these technologies can detect patterns humans might miss, increasing productivity by more accurately pinpointing which drivers to assign certain loads.

Route optimization benefits from AI, too. The technology streamlines route optimization, minimizing drive time and mileage by enabling fleet managers and drivers to find the most efficient, quickest order to schedule stops. AI can process traffic patterns and use algorithms to predict delays, even alerting dispatchers and managers earlier to facilitate load rescheduling or driver rerouting.

Drivers, fleet managers and customers benefit from AI-driven software capable of using real-time data about traffic, weather, and historical data on transit times to provide more accurate ETAs. Because AI constantly evolves, route optimization will become even more streamlined.

Workflow technology

The trucking industry has already benefited from many technology solutions designed to increase productivity and efficiency.

Drivers and fleets can use AI — together with cloud computing, machine learning (ML) and IoT — to move from paper management to digital management processes. Other technology has enabled fleets to identify customers affected by import tariffs, for example, and connect with those customers to develop mitigation strategies.

AI doesn’t just observe data or patterns. It’s capable of predicting potential scenarios based on past patterns. Workflow and fleet management software incorporating AI technology can help drivers and fleet managers with real-time navigation, data monitoring and predictive maintenance alerts. The future of AI within the trucking industry could include other businesses like capacity-as-a-service, predictive on-demand maintenance and shared insurance optimization.

AI’s future in the trucking industry

CB Insights reported that investors dedicated $2 billion to trucking tech startups in spring 2019. The transport and logistics sector represents $26 billion of total startup funding in the logistics industry.

Artificial intelligence has already begun to deliver on its promise to increase productivity, reliability, safety and sustainability within the trucking sector. While not a turnkey solution, AI technology relies on human knowledge to understand what to do. AI won’t replace people — it will reshape their roles and improve their work processes. AI is revolutionizing the trucking industry and promising to not just drive efficiency, but also better experiences for fleet management, drivers, customers and other critical stakeholders.


Avi Geller is the founder and CEO of Maven Machines. Since 2014, Avi has led Maven’s growth as an IoT platform that serves the transportation industry through real-time, mobile cloud enterprise software. Avi originally hails from Palo Alto, California, but started Maven in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania due to the city’s impressive innovation and technology resources. Prior to founding Maven, he held international positions with SAP and contributed to the growth of several successful software companies and startups. Avi also has an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Northwestern University.


Canadian Companies Form Partnership for First-of-its-Kind Trucking Technology

Canada’s first-ever automated heavy-duty trucking technology is one step closer to launching thanks to a recent partnership between Canadian Tire Corporation, NuPort Robotics Inc., and the Ontario government. In a release earlier this week, a $3 million investment was confirmed to support the automated trucking project which will further highlight the need for middle-mile and short-haul solutions. The technology aims to provide solutions for these trucks by increasing fuel efficiency and safety while enhancing the driver experience.

“Ontario is proud to be a global leader in automated and connected vehicle technology and this innovative project is an exciting milestone toward automated vehicle tech in the trucking industry,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Ontarians rely on goods being delivered by trucks across the province every day and projects like this are demonstrating the ways that automated truck technology could help businesses meet delivery demands more efficiently while supporting a strong supply chain in Ontario.”

“This project applies unique and made-in-Ontario Artificial Intelligence technology that offers increased safety and efficiency, with a reduced carbon footprint, to the goods supply chains on which we all rely,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “This is the latest example of how Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network acts as a catalyst, fostering partnerships between ambitious technology start-ups and industry to develop and commercialize next-generation transportation technologies that strengthen our economy and benefit society.”

The project – which is currently estimated to take about two years, will utilize technologies including NuPort’s very own artificial intelligence to aid in retrofitting two semi-tractor trailers with features such as high-tech sensors and controls, a touchscreen navigation system, and other advanced obstacle and collision avoidance features.

“The trucks are currently transporting goods between a Canadian Tire distribution center in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 12.5-mile radius, and early results are promising,” said Raghavender Sahdev, CEO of NuPort Robotics. “The aim of the project is to develop a system that incorporates an autopilot feature for conventional trucks with a driver, leading to the most efficient way to drive and increase safety. The sensors work as a ‘safety cocoon’ to cover blind spots and prevent accidents and the end result is peak fuel efficiency, meaning lower carbon emissions, and peak driving performance for an overall more optimal transportation experience.”

“Canadian Tire embraces innovation and is always testing new technologies to improve our operational efficiency and safety. As proud Canadian companies, the safety of all stakeholders, including drivers, employees, customers, and public will be the top priority as we work together towards deployment of this technology,” said Gary Fast, Vice-President of Transportation, Canadian Tire.

“Over the last three years, Canadian Tire has made a significant effort to solve complex business problems by using the Canadian start-up Artificial Intelligence ecosystem, and NuPort Robotics exemplifies what we look for in a start-up with a focus on innovation, automation and artificial intelligence,” added Cari Covent, Vice President of Intelligent Automation, Canadian Tire.

Combined investments from the Ontario government through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) ($1 million) and matched investments totaling $1 million by Canadian Tire and NuPort Robotics will support the overall focus on creating sustainable supply chain solutions in transportation while focusing on middle-mile transportation needs.

“As NuPort Robotics continues to develop new technologies to overcome middle-mile supply chain problems and advance autonomous trucking, I am extremely grateful for the support of the Ontario Government through AVIN and the Ontario Centre of Innovation. With their continued support, we are striving to position Canada as the leader in autonomous transportation,” Sahdev said.