The top 3 disruptive trends shaping transportation and logistic

The top 3 disruptive trends shaping transportation and logistic

1. Platooning Technology Will Take Off In Long-Haul Trucking In The Next 2 years

Automated platooning software — which allows multiple trucks to autonomously follow

each other in a closely bunched convoy — will start to make its way into commercial

long-haul trucking vehicles in the next year or two. Startup Peloton, for example, is

planning a limited commercial release of its platooning solution later this year, with a full

launch scheduled for 2018. Several truck manufacturers, including Volvo, also have

plans to introduce platooning technologies to their models in the near future.

Once it reaches market, platooning software will see quick uptake within the trucking

industry. That’s because it can reduce the single biggest cost for trucking fleets: fuel

consumption. By following each other very closely together, platooning trucks face less

wind resistance, which boosts their fuel efficiency. In a test involving a two-truck

convoy, Peloton found that its software improved the fuel efficiency of the lead truck by

4.5%, while the rear truck saw a 10% boost. This improved fuel efficiency will increase

demand for the technology, as truck operators seek to integrate it across their fleets

over the next few years.


2. Congress Will Pass Self-Driving Car Legislation In The Next Year, But The Actual Rules Will Take Much Longer

Congress will likely pass legislation in the next year that will direct the Department of

Transportation to draft regulations for self-driving cars. Both the House and Senate

have introduced legislation regarding self-driving technology with bipartisan support,

indicating that there’s wide acknowledgement among legislators that this disruptive

technology must be addressed quickly.

The House is currently set to debate a bill that would allow the Department of

Transportation to exempt specific numbers of autonomous vehicles from federal safety

requirements, while also directing the agency to overhaul the nation’s motor vehicle

safety standards to account for autonomous technologies. However, regulators will

likely take several years to draft those safety standards, even with a push from

Congress. Drafting regulations will require extensive field testing and reaching a

consensus among various stakeholders, including car companies and consumer

advocacy groups. Right now, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration

(NHTSA) lacks the staff and resources to conduct this wide-ranging field work and

industry outreach in anything less than five years, according to former NHTSA

administrator Joan Claybrook. NHTSA also remains without a director, and it seems

unlikely to get much support from the White House, which has let its self-driving car task

force fall apart in recent months.


3. Machine Learning Will Enable On-Demand Route Optimization For Deliveries

Route optimization is already a pressing issue for logistics companies and organizations

that rely on them to deliver goods. A growing list of companies has already begun

adopting more sophisticated technologies to help optimize routes for speed and fuel

efficiency. For example, UPS finished the deployment of its ORION route optimization

algorithm in the US in late 2016, and is working on expanding its use to international


As on-demand delivery schemes begin to take hold in long-haul trucking and last-mile

deliveries, it will force companies to generate more optimized routes more quickly to

enable faster pickups and deliveries. That will require instantly aggregating and

analyzing a wide range of both historical and real-time data on weather, traffic, and

construction delays, as well as historical data regarding demand for pickups and

dropoffs. Using such data, a courier’s route for a late afternoon last-mile package

delivery could be redirected through an area where there’s typically high demand for

package pickups during that time of day, increasing the likelihood that the courier will

pick up an extra package for delivery on the way. This will enable on-demand logistics

and delivery providers to deliver more orders more quickly, while also better managing

their operational costs.


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