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Trucking revolution: Industry to see drastic changes in coming years from tech advancements

| July 10, 2014

Overdrive Equipment Editor Jack Roberts has spent the last two weeks in Europe — which caps another week-long trip in May — to catch introductions from major truck and component manufacturers of some of the most technologically advanced rigs the world has seen, including an autonomous tractor-trailer, new smart axles and transmissions and a combo that can be piloted from outside the cab with tablet computer.


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He penned a full blog post on OD sister site CCJ about what all of this technology means for the industry (which you can read here), making the point that big, revolutionary changes are coming to the industry — and likely within the next decade. 

The technological revolution that began in the 1990s is culminating in self-driving trucks and other technology that will fundamentally change trucks, fleets and drivers, Roberts writes, pointing to Daimler’s self-driving/autonomous truck, Meritor’s “intelligent axle” and ZF’s new automated transmission and Smart Truck Maneuvering system  (all introduced in the last 6 weeks) as examples. 

Truck driving will still very much be a viable profession in 10 years, Roberts says, but they may have the option to turn on an auto-pilot in heavy traffic and let the truck drive itself while the driver rests. 


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They may also be able to climb out of the truck in tight or hazardous parking situations and drive the truck with their phone or tablet. 

They could also be in charge of driving a pilot rig that leads two or three other driverless vehicles on cross-country voyages. 

And they will also more than likely be more highly trained and more highly paid, Roberts says. 

There’s money to be made in all of the changes, Roberts says, but its those who can figure out how to leverage the technology that will be making it. 

Click here to read his full piece on CCJ. 


  • Kevin J. Reidy

    More highly paid….HAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!

  • Zach

    Hahaha is exactly right. Not to mention the sack for of regs that will come along with all this “Godsend” everything a trucker needs.
    I wonder how all the highway defender (MADD, CRASH etc…) feel about automated trucks. Anyone wanna bet there will be a fight?

  • Viki

    ? Really? Better quality of life 4 driver & will get “general labor’ designator changed back to “skilled labor” &/OR change to include “Tech” skills job description designator?
    ? Really? Ever1 quality of life will chang? Right now ther are ‘Dedicated Accts’ that 4 which initial creation & openings & Waiting List are not Transparent & Open Promulgation Over Qualcomm advertised! And right now trucks in dedicated trucks hav enhanced security rest of fleet lacks & which sinc inclusion of CTPAT makes trucker cheap predictable $$ loss on insurance liability actuarial table risk factors list versus John/Mary Q Public injured/deceased who has ‘deep $$pockets’.
    So what presents as most consistently safe reliable insured course of action that presents best Cost/Benefit Analysis to Board Of Stockholders, etc? ? Spend $ to educate allegedly unskilled truck driver who moves around or turn truck over at destination ‘on site’ to couple few in mgmt working in Shipping & Receiving or to someone in trucking company at a distance who gets trained & does it by cameras & sensors? ? What INCENTIVE does any party in this equation hav to elevate driver? What incentive does any party hav to tell shareholders they hav 2giv up Penny or Two or 3 Per Mile to UNDO HARMFUL UNTRUTHFUL Designator applied to this American Trucker that was legislatively reduced to ‘general labor’. There’s more incentive for Computer Control Truck User to be on staff with Shpr/Rcvr again for what will be deemed best most consistent safety result via insurance liabilities via those ins . actuarial risk table factors. It will be alleged too eliminates ‘tired driver’ factor & saves HOS to safe/legal EXIT facility. Then again too same argument will be made to force Trucker out of OPEN ROAD & URBAN Truck Driver seat so system uses Driver’s Hours Most efficiently for team as whole.
    Further, places we deliv2 (like HP/cigaretteRcvrs/certain pharmaceut/HazMat) th@ are “HiRisk” already do NOT hav Drvr parking & do NOT even allow drvr in2 their bldg to go2 bathroom (thy add Porta potty couple yrs back & usually unhygienic & leaves property on trk easy2steal sinc no Alarms @doors yet sinc 9/11). OK, so they say can’t operate Cost Effectively & include Trkr park(small Drvr Lounge) area 4HOS. And, if u r in truck & hooked, it’s ODND burning HOS.
    Additionally, city/state has no Rest Area or TrkStop in safe/legal distanc 4HOS by most cities, urban areas. Seems Liberals don’t want to see/hav anything not 100% aesthetically pleasing/appealing in or proximate to neighborhood that might be perceived to effect property values adversely. And so further undercut 1st home buyer potential & encourage foreign inflation prices & investment interest to bulk buy homes. ? Wonder if stolen ISIS $$ buying homes 4 CASH 4 narcoTerroristSafeHousesHere&Europe.
    And there’s another concern (open borders) that will logically add incendiaryFuel to debate, discourse. So, again suggest 8th Wonder Of World & Bld Rio Grande Canal lock/dams South San Diego to Gulf Coast by Brownsville for containers & Bld PORTS & CREATE GOOD JOBS BOTH SIDES OF BORDER building & WORKING AT CONDOS, MARINAS, CASINOS, RESORTS, BRICK/MORTAR DEPT&DOLLAR STORES, BIG ANIMAL ADVENTURE PARKS, SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES, HIGHER ED CAMPUSES… Hey, if my job is maybe going down, this American believes y’all better hav something darn good in pipe line. My secretarial job became Admin Assist’ &frequently replaced by some dude. So, went Trucker to see my America & put faces to folk from around country I talked to on phone in a telemarketing sort of environment. Now Tech’ may if not eliminate, but shock/awe Amer.Trucker; especially, sinc so many reportedly gone already bcaus didn’t prefer trucking life under new rules. And, there are so many INVITATIONS To VISA Holders for whom English is 2nd Language that this adds another incentive under harmful HOS & CSA to allege belief backed by legitimate #’s for assertion best cheapest course of action to focus on fixed more predictive asset investment in Ship/Rcv Mgmt personnel? OR, Supv’g Fork Driver? NO! -OR- FORMER TRUCKER NOW DRVR-MGR? NO!
    Well, this one goes in2 void of comments section that tells me just how touchy this subject is. Can’t apologize for somewhat provocative remarks. Spent a life not ‘going for it when shld’v’ & tho off road at moment attending to Pop, can’t help b engaged bcaus I love trucking & driving the OPEN ROAD in USA! Thx again Overdriveonline for forum.

  • localnet

    There will be money to be made if the technology is leveraged properly? Like a US senators husband or brother lobbying congress to make a device mandatory? That kind of technological dollar windfall? I can see it now…

  • guest

    I believe the only “higher paid” person in this mix will be the lawyers and the defendants of an accident, and the mechanics that will have to be a certified electronics engineer to work on the systems.

    I wonder, are “they” proposing to try the systems out on 80,000 lb trucks and if they work then put them into cars? I know, the systems have been in service for some time (google cars, for ex.) but it seems heavy equipment get there first. This is already being done on construction sites and on farms, albeit not on the road.

    There are enough “steering wheel holders” on the road now, the real drivers have pretty much been chased away. Now the automated driving trucks will retire the rest of the experienced drivers.

  • Tire bandit

    What a joke… I’ll be shooting their tires out. Nobody wants a computer deciding what’s best for rolling 80klbs around other motorists

  • Clark’s roadie

    Hahahahaha precisely, in my opinion if they get technology to drive the truck they’ll claim its a non skilled labor job. Meaning high pay for freight company owners, minimum wage for drivers. Why not? People mean nothing and their families even less

  • BunniRabbyt

    +————–There needs to be a revolution alright but not by trucking but by truckers. I am retired but I would be right in there with you if there was one.

  • Clyde

    High tech, yes you buy the tech truck and while your truck sets in a repair shop, my old truck will still be going up and down the highway picking up and delivering while you set along side the interstate waiting for a tow truck??????

  • Jim

    These trucks will bankrupt D.O.T. and the Government that over sees this. How? All that “revenue” they get nit picking the drivers and their respective companies over violations. Good bye log book violations, H.O.S., speeding tickets etc. Etc. I was told by a Texas D.O.T officer that in 20 short years OTR human drivers will be no more. Face it folks we are the dinosaurs of our time in our industry. The “ice age” is here for us. The great fireball in the sky is technology and it’ comming to wipe us out.

  • john cook

    Ccj more corporate bullshit

  • jr023

    hackers will love the damage they can do, remember the train crashes in dc and ca they are mainly automated and failed big

  • William McKelvie

    First load shift and fatality will scrap the program. Whose gonna make sure the securement on platform type trailers stays good and proper? The camera’s ROFLMAO!!

  • Mario

    Hi,well they won’t eliminate drivers and gain of high profits for companies,we already making low wages”image when this come”.We already have no collective bargaining think people thats my opinion….

  • Mario

    Hi,also all technology they begin introducing for last 20 yrs has been leading up to this,so you better be preparing yourself what’s to come…

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  • guest

    That is happening Now…money grubbers lobbying to have their Gadgets installed in every truck….so they get Rich…Payola takes place and new Rules are heaped upon the drivers in the name of “safety” wink wink…

  • guest

    True…managers in mega fleets laugh, scoff, make jokes about truck drivers..they laugh and call him stupid if he has an accident….his family be damned….

  • guest

    Yep the difference will be like the Dial homephone to the SmartPhone of today replete w internet capabilities..who wooulda Thunk????? Count yer last days in truckin…

  • guest

    As they evolve toward the self driving truck on highways with electronics imbedded into the high tech highways of tomorrow…they will gradually require more “manageable” trucks and drivers to haul freight….Automatic transmissions, speed limiters, camera in your face..watching you 24/7 and Electo Logs of course….more rules and more devices every year until the day the driver is no longer needed at all.

  • guest

    As they evolve toward the self driving truck on highways with electronics imbedded into the high tech highways of tomorrow…they will gradually require more “manageable” trucks and drivers to haul freight….Automatic transmissions, speed limiters, camera in your face..watching you 24/7 and Electo Logs of course….more rules and more devices every year until the day the driver is no longer needed at all. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.