Today’s logistics and transportation headlines frequently highlight the ongoing challenges for recruitment and retention of truck drivers.  The perception of low pay, long hours and a constrained career path continue to inhibit the recruitment of added drivers.  Transportation carriers themselves complain of increased regulation, especially those related to governing hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for drivers.

Daimler Trucks demonstrated a potential answer to all of these challenges.  The Future Truck 2025 demonstration was conducted before a large group of media. Daimler officials where the truck demonstrated its capabilities on the A14 autobahn highway near Magdeburg, Germany under realistic driving conditions.  A video highlighting the demonstration can be viewed at this Yahoo Business page.

The vehicle was equipped with Daimler’s Highway Pilot System, a highly intelligent autonomous assistance control system along with other technology such as Predictive Power Train Control which leverages information on road topography and other conditions to automatically adjust the operation of the drivetrain for maximum fuel economy. Thus far, the overall speed of the future truck has been limited to 50 miles-per-hour.

In its media briefing, Daimler officials pointed out that to provide more career attraction, the driverless truck will free operators from having to perform monotonous tasks and provide more time to perform tasks handled by office workers. In essence, drivers can multi-task in duties related to transport management, perhaps calling ahead to destinations to make loading arrangements, making calls to customers, or dare we state, performing analysis of transportation and fleet-wide big-data. Sound crazy or far-fetched?  Maybe or may-be not.

But, can the truck effectively back itself up in the very tight loading dock?  Can you view the scenario of the operator leaving the cab and performing back-up requirements by remote control, in the rear of the vehicle?  Who knows!

Daimler is quick to note that a lot has to happen before we ever seen this type of vehicle on global highways. Governmental agencies will need to legislate the control of driverless vehicles, especially those related to big rigs.  Highways themselves will need to be fitted with sensors. Areas of insurance and liability will have to be ironed-out.  And then there is the response of drivers themselves, especially those in organized labor unions.

Daimler chose 2025 to connote technology that would be universal sometime in the next decade. The takeaway however is that commercial technology that all of us believed was a vision of tomorrow is now well within reach. Ocean container lines are exploring ships that control and navigate themselves while airplanes fly themselves. 

One wonders what the new world of logistics and transportation will turn out to be?

Add to the discourse and jump-in with your views.

Bob Ferrari