If you drive on a daily basis, you’re most likely not a stranger to the large 18-wheelers that often occupy our nation’s roads. Transportation service providers rely heavily on these big rigs to ship clients’ products from one location to the next, and without traditional freight shipping, consumers would be without a lot of amenities.
Semi-trucks have operated in a similar way for many years, but recent technological developments are slowly infiltrating into the trucking industry in an effort to keep pace with fluid consumer demands.
Make way for futuristic trucks
Now that consumers expect to receive their purchased products faster than ever before, the shipping industry is having to adapt on the fly to keep its customers happy. Major players like Amazon are experimenting with aerial drones, and a number of other automated technologies are being developed in the sector.
More specifically, retail industry giant Wal-Mart recently rolled out a prototype for a fleet of advanced trucks that bear resemblance to Optimus Prime. According to Fox Business News, truck manufacturer Peterbilt designed the futuristic model, which includes sliding doors, monitors that stick out from the dashboard console and a centered driver’s seat within the cabin. The driver can fully customize in-dash display modules that monitor the truck’s performance in real time as well.
The body of the trailer is almost all carbon fiber and is a hybrid-powered machine designed with maximizing aerodynamics and reducing drag on the road, Fox Business News added. Physics plays a major role in truck shipping seeing as the more a truck has to work to battle both road and weather conditions, the more fuel it uses as a result. Bill Kahn, Peterbilt’s manager of advanced concepts estimates that advanced aerodynamics could strengthen fuel economy by at least 10 percent.
The truck itself is reportedly 4,000 lbs. lighter than the trucks in Wal-Mart’s current fleet.
What’s next in the industry?
Wal-Mart’s new prototype may never make it to the road, although in a recent company blog post, CEO Doug McMillon said the model is road-ready.
Further technological developments are also slowly making their way into the industry. Fox Business News added that market leaders are toying with the idea of developing fully autonomous trucks in the near future – a thought that echoes Amazon’s unmanned aerial drone project recently unveiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Under these premises, semi trucks would be able to not only operate themselves, but also communicate with other fleets and drive in a more regulated manner. No longer will big rigs block the highway; rather, they would be able to drive in a more organized and arguably, a safer manner.
In addition to fully autonomous trucks and big rigs that are lighter and more aerodynamic, the industry may be influenced by technology that was never thought of prior to the digital age. Most people are now familiar with the buzz phrase “big data,” but not many people fully understand how it can be applied to various industries. According to Forbes, new developments like telematics and electronic on-board recorders are changing how large, long-distance freight carriers transport goods. For example, a truck with an intelligence system that collects data about the temperature of the trailer can communicate to the TSP if the refrigerator warms up or cools down too much and therefore, relay the information back to the driver before the product is affected.
A more intuitive and informed trucking industry can increase profit margins and ensure consumers’ products are delivered on time and in a safe manner.
What are your thoughts about new technology in the industry? Let us know in the comment section below!
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