Three Issues Enterprise Homeowners Have to Know About Driverless Vans
Self-driving trucks are arriving sooner than you might expect. Swedish driverless truck startup Einride unveiled a new model last month that is expected to be ready for use in 2021. Waymo and Daimler from Google announced this week that they would be using a Freightliner Cascadia driverless truck in the coming years. The autonomous truck startup TuSimple teamed up with the US truck manufacturer Navistar this summer to build an autonomous trailer truck by 2024.
Fully autonomous trucks could save businesses $ 4.75 billion in annual freight cost savings by 2030, according to an analysis by Frost & Sullivan published this week. The cost of shipping goods by truck has skyrocketed in 2020, partly due to increased shipping volumes and the delay in hiring truck drivers, according to the Journal of Commerce. At the same time, Walmart, UPS, GM, Volkswagen, and others have invested heavily in the driverless rig market. The key to the success of autonomous rigs will be the introduction of 5G in the US. With high capacity, low latency wireless networks, people can better operate vehicles remotely.
Here are three things small business owners should know about driverless trucks.
1. Driverless trucks speed up supply chains.
Because self-driving trucks can travel longer than human drivers, delivering inventory to businesses can potentially be much faster. This could be particularly beneficial for restaurants and retailers who rely on fast delivery of perishable products such as fresh groceries. Gatik, a driverless vehicle startup that has partnered with Walmart to deliver groceries in Arkansas, is already doing driverless travel – and is seeing increasing demand.
The company saw a 30 to 35 percent increase in orders from existing customers through 2020, as well as interest from new retail customers, says Richard Steiner, director of politics and communications at Gatik. The new customers range from the supply of food to pharmaceuticals and auto parts to consumer electronics. Certain customers who previously had to wait two days for shipments can now process their orders within two hours, Steiner adds.
2. Human drivers are still required for last mile delivery.
According to Steve Viscelli, author of The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the, driverless trucks are unlikely to soon be performing the last mile transportation responsible for the final stage of getting a product to a customer’s doorstep to bring American dream. One of the reasons is that delivery drivers do a significant amount of non-driving work, e.g. For example, finding individual homes, deciding the best or safest location to place a package, and making sure packages are not damaged.
“The cost of doing this with robots will be astronomical,” says Viscelli.
3. Widespread savings in small businesses will take time – if they happen at all.
It remains to be seen whether self-driving trucks help or harm small businesses across the board. Viscelli cautions that transportation has long been an expensive problem for small businesses and that large companies with global supply chains and the ability to expedite delivery have always had an advantage. Add autonomous vehicles to the equation and the benefits will only multiply. Large companies can invest in their own self-propelled fleets and save on transportation costs, which gives them another edge over corner shops.
“Unfortunately, I see no advantage for small businesses. I see a persistent disadvantage,” says Viscelli.
However, Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder of Plus.ai, a self-driving truck startup, believes the technology will benefit companies regardless of size. He added that the significant up-front cost would be a barrier to entry. “Trucks are not small purchases. As with any business technology, we expect companies with larger fleets to be the first to adopt self-driving trucks,” says Kerrigan.
Proponents of driverless trucks believe that more sustainable modes of transport must be adopted by companies regardless of size. A main selling point for autonomous vehicles was their energy saving potential. “We believe that [Einride’s technology] is for anyone who has a need for shipping and wants to do it sustainably and intelligently, and that includes small businesses. Without everyone on board, we cannot undo the massive impact of diesel cargo on our environment, “says Robert Falck, CEO of Einride.
Brian Wolshon, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University, says small businesses may find new ways to take advantage of the technology as driverless trucks take hold.
“You could share this vehicle with other mom and pop businesses if you have a vehicle that drives and could do self-deliveries,” says Wolshon. He suggests another idea: to use the vehicles as a moving shop front.