Top 5 Autonomous Trucking Companies

Did you know that there are around 1,500 self-driving cars in the US?

Autonomous vehicles are all the rage, for a number of reasons. They promise a more efficient, safer future for our roadways. But while everyone talks about Tesla, few talk about the boon this could provide for trucking companies.

Self-driving trucks could revolutionize our shipping networks. A self-driving semi-truck would not have a human's limitations, and as such would provide a wealth of benefits to the economy.

However, autonomous trucking companies are still in their infancy. Experts estimate that as many as 90% of semi trucks will be self-driving. But at the current date, there is not a single full-fledged autonomous truck on the roadways.

In this guide, we're going to discuss what 5 autonomous trucking companies are doing to change things. Then we'll see how this could benefit everything from refrigerated transport to auto transport.

1. Waymo: Google's Answer to Autonomous Trucking Companies

You may remember when Google's early self-driving vehicles were doing the laps back in 2010. They were a cool publicity stunt, but since then, you may have heard nothing.

That's because Google's self-driving project converted into Waymo. It's technically a subsidiary of another company, Alphabet, but receives significant support from Google.

What's unique about Waymo is that they already have a working, self-driving taxi service. That's right, if you live in the Greater Phoenix Area, you can take a Waymo taxi today. The car won't have a human driver--it won't even have someone there to guard the wheel!

That might sound alarming, but many have taken Waymo's taxi service with successful results. The car is fully autonomous. It brakes when it detects even the slightest amount of danger and can take any route within Google's specified area.

Just recently, Waymo announced its plans to create a fully autonomous trucking line. They'll install a trucking hub in Dallas which will feature self-driving trucks that require no driver.

This is exciting news, especially for auto car transport. The ability to ship a car to another state could happen more quickly and with superior safety.

2. Plus: Amazon and Chinese Backed Self-Driving

Amazon, being as big as it is, would be remiss to miss out on a piece of the self-driving pie. So they've partnered with Plus, another self-driving startup.

You may have even heard of them. In 2019, they made headlines with a 2,800 cross-country, record-breaking freight run. And it only took them 3 days to do so.

The ramifications for something like expedited car shipping could be a game changer. Without the need for a driver to stay awake all the time, a self-driving semi-truck could cross the country in half the time. Car transport would be, by default, expedited.

Plus has big plans. They've already partnered with a Chinese firm with the intent of taking their proprietary tech to China's roads. Not only that, but China plans to back them by mass-producing self-driving Plus vehicles in 2021 and beyond.

Amazon is a big fan of Plus' progress, and to prove their interest, they've ordered 1,000 autonomous vehicles. To put a stamp of their approval, they invested in a whopping 20% of its shares.

Being as populous as China is, Plus could provide invaluable data from China's packed roads. Only time will tell if Plus proves to be a worthy competitor to Waymo.

3. TuSimple: A Trucking Company With AI Expertise at the Helm

Dr. Xiaodi Hou has made a name for himself as an AI expert. He founded TuSimple all the way back in 2015. And to the surprise of many, he has built his own proprietary self-driving system from the ground up.

Hou also got into the trucking game, focusing on purpose-built self-driving trucks to serve more niche requirements. They've even partnered up with big-name companies like TRATON and Navistar.

Ryder trucks leased their depots to TuSimple for testing, and Hou's autonomous vehicles have already run a series of successful long-haul journeys.

TuSimple's focus on bespoke solutions may be a game-changer. Many trucking companies might prefer a solution that doesn't so heavily focus on semis. For example, companies that use smaller trucks for local deliveries.

The ability to automate local supply chains could result in impressive efficiency and organization. And it may help car transport with their novel requirements. For example, the need to transport mobile homes would benefit a great deal from a self-driving semi-truck.

4. Tesla: The Obvious Choice in Self-Driving

This list wouldn't be complete without Tesla, the go-to choice for personal transport. Elon Musk, ever the dreamer and innovator, couldn't stop at just electric cars for a local commute. We may just have Tesla semi trucks as soon as 2022.

Many of the above companies are focusing more on the self-driving part and less on the electric part. Tesla intends to do both.

The prospect of electric trucks in our logistics grids could change everything. Electric cars are already the green solution to climate change. But with a semi-truck vehicle, they could provide a number of benefits.

First, electric vehicles require less maintenance. With a standard semi-truck, autonomous trucking companies would have to stop their vehicles on a regular basis for maintenance.

That maintenance could add hours to how long a truck needs to wait before going out again. With an electric car, it only needs a quick recharge before it's out again.

Second, semi trucks are a huge contributor to pollution. Since they're a vital part of our economy, we can't get rid of them. Therefore, the solution is to make them efficient and less polluting.

Finally, electric vehicles run quieter. A semi-truck no longer has to add the startling high city noise. A depot of trucks would make practically no noise, a huge boon for making our cities quieter.

That means improvements for car transport, too. There's less risk of breakdowns on the way to deliver a car. People don't need to worry that the truck will make a lot of noise when delivered to their doorstep.

5. Daimler Trucks: The Largest Truck Manufacturer Tackles the Self-Driving Problem, Too

Daimler trucks might not sound familiar to you. That is, until you consider all their subsidiaries: Mercedez Benz, Western Star, Freightliner, and Mitsubishi. And this trucking giant has been on the autonomous market for 5 years already.

To cement their place in self-driving, they've already committed over $500 million to the development of their own self-driving systems. They partnered up with Torc Robotics, a company already known for having an impressive Level 4 autonomous driving level.

Their trucks have already gotten a chance to prove their chops, too. They saw some action on Virginia's roads nearby their Torc partner's headquarters.

Daimler has been particularly focused on heavy-duty freight. At the current date of writing, this has a long way to go. Drivers can only take their hands off the wheel for about 15 seconds. However, this could be the future of heavier trucks.

Car transport often sees huge open transport trailers that take up a lot of space on the road. They're heavy and can be difficult to maneuver in certain areas of the continental US. A company that caters to this market could make autonomous open car haulers a reality.

What Does This Say for the Future of Trucking Companies?

These companies are all making promising strides. Question is, what can we learn from their progress? What can we expect to see in the coming years as more and more companies invest in self-driving trucks?

Many of the same benefits that we see in self-driving personal vehicles apply here. Let's discuss what improvements this will make to our existing networks.

1. Improved Safety

The sad truth is that humans are terrible at driving. We get in thousands of crashes per year, many of them resulting in severe injuries or death. With semi-truck accidents, those injuries and deaths are far worse.

The problem is that we as humans are not made for driving. We get tired, hungry, or angry. Our changing emotional state can lead us to make poor decisions that risk the lives of others.

But worse than all of that is that humans get distracted. Humans may try to multitask, but our brains are built for performing one task at a time. That means that when we drive, we must drive and do nothing else.

The problem is, cellphones and other distractions can make it hard for the average truck driver to stay focused. Just taking one's eyes off the road for two seconds could be enough to lead to an accident.

The process of driving requires humans to split up their focus as it is. Watching multiple sets of mirrors, tracking vehicles on both sides of the road, and using the controls all push our brains to the limit of their focus.

All of that changes with self-driving cars. Semi truck drivers won't get in as many accidents. Car transports won't have to worry about cars getting damaged on the way because of a careless driver.

2. Faster Logistic Networks

Another human limitation is sleep. Truck drivers need to pull over and get a few hours of sleep after a full day of driving. That means hours of downtime where a truck is not in motion and not getting any closer to its destination.

Forcing humans to get less sleep is not the answer. Sleep deprivation leads to poor judgment and reasoning, driving up the risk of accidents.

Not only that, but truck drivers need days off. Even on back-and-forth routes, they need nights in hotels, showers, and other amenities. This is more time that a truck is stopped and not in motion.

When these drivers go home, they may spend a full weekend or longer off. By the time they're back in the driver's seat, days have passed.

Plus, you have to factor in holidays. Most people don't like to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving. As a result, trucking and shipping can often grind to a halt during these times of the year.

Imagine if our trucks ran 24/7 nonstop. A semi-truck could go straight to its destination, only stopping over to get gas or maintenance as necessary. It would do this year-round, never taking a day off.

Then when it reaches its destination, it stays only long enough to unload and head out again. At the next destination, it stops and turns around for another journey. It only stops for more than a few hours if it needs serious maintenance.

That means shipments of all kinds would arrive in record time compared to previous transportation options. And for car transport, that means even the cheapest car transport option would arrive much faster than before.

3. Better Prices

Truck drivers can make a decent amount of money with minimal skills and experience. They're always in short supply, so companies often offer increasingly larger bonuses to get new hires and keep old drivers in.

Imagine taking the cost of a driver's salary out of the equation. That's a lot of money that could be passed onto the consumer. The savings would benefit car transport companies and their customers alike.

While a self-driving vehicle does require a costly system of cameras and AI, its benefits far outweigh its downsides. Self-driving trucks go longer and get involved in fewer accidents. Even with drivers in the equation, the savings would be significant.

The Future of Self-Driving Is Coming

Self-driving promises a future of safer roads, faster deliveries, and cheaper prices. It's no surprise that trucking companies are trying to get into the self-driving business. An autonomous truck could completely change the trucking industry and provide a wealth of benefits for all.

But for the time being, these are all future predictions. We don't yet know when this future will arrive, and how profound its impact will be.

So if you're looking for car transport, you've come to the right place. Contact Nexus today and take care of all your car transport needs.