5 Innovative Technologies Revolutionising the Trucking Industry

Last Updated: 

April 24, 2024

The trucking industry is the backbone of our economy, transporting goods across the country to keep businesses running and consumers happy. But it’s also an industry facing massive disruptions from new technologies modernising everything from vehicles to business operations. As one of the less tech-savvy industries, transportation and logistics have lagged in adopting the latest innovations. However, applying new technologies promises to bring this critical sector into the 21st century. 

Innovations, from self-driving trucks to paperless documentation, address major pain points like driver shortages and inefficient operations. The sector, which has run on traditional processes for decades, is waking up to the benefits of emerging technologies. 

Here are the five most promising ones that will revolutionise trucking in the coming years: 

Innovative tech for trucking industry
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Key Takeaways on Technologies for the Trucking Industry

  1. Autonomous Trucking Revolution: Self-driving trucks are poised to transform the trucking industry, addressing issues like driver shortages and inefficiencies. The technology offers benefits such as increased safety, fuel efficiency, and productivity, ultimately reshaping supply chains.
  2. Electric Trucks for Sustainability: With a growing emphasis on sustainability, electric trucks powered by lithium-ion batteries are gaining popularity. These trucks provide eco-friendly alternatives without compromising performance, offering instant torque, fast acceleration, and zero emissions, aligning with environmental regulations.
  3. Truck Platooning for Efficiency: Leveraging vehicle-to-vehicle communication, truck platooning connects multiple trucks in a convoy, improving fuel efficiency by reducing drag. This technology allows for closer following distances, reducing labour costs through semi-autonomous operations and potentially enabling one driver to operate multiple networked trucks.
  4. Digital Freight Brokerage Transformation: Digital disruptors like Uber Freight and Convoy are revolutionising freight brokerage with data-driven platforms. These platforms use cloud technology and Big Data analytics to match shipments with optimal carriers, streamlining coordination, and providing transparent pricing. This digital approach eliminates manual processes and reduces overhead costs for operators.
  5. Blockchain for Transparency and Security: Blockchain technology is enhancing transparency and security in logistics. By creating an encrypted and decentralised ledger, blockchain ensures trust and accuracy in transactions throughout the supply chain. It eliminates paperwork, quickens payments through smart contracts, and provides real-time tracking, making it a game-changer for the trucking and logistics industry.
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1. Autonomous Trucking 

The development of self-driving trucks promises to be the most disruptive force in the industry. The trucking industry news is now filled with announcements of companies rolling out advanced tech to streamline supply chains. Major tech firms and truck manufacturers are racing to launch autonomous rigs that can operate without a human driver. Besides taking the driver out of the truck, the technology also brings benefits like increased safety, fuel efficiency, and productivity. 

Automation in trucking tackles one of the worst problems facing the industry today - the shortage of qualified drivers. The American Trucking Association estimates the current deficit of drivers at 80,000, a number that’s expected to swell to 160,000 in the next decade. Self-driving technology renders drivers redundant, allowing trucks to run without rest to meet rising shipment demands. It also makes each truck achieve better mileage through platooning - several networked trucks following each other closely. 

As automation and technology continue to shape the future of trucking, addressing the significant driver shortage remains a challenge. One solution lies in the comprehensive training provided by reputable institutions for those aiming to secure their place in this evolving industry. Opting for a class B license school offers aspiring drivers the qualifications required to operate vehicles equipped with these revolutionary technologies.

Testing of driverless trucks is already underway, with commercialisation expected in the coming decade. Major companies like TuSimple, Aurora, and Embark are aggressively developing autonomous models to overhaul the economics of truck freight. Though the technology currently faces regulatory hurdles, its enormous benefits ensure trucks that drive themselves are the future of trucking. 

self-driving cars
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2. Electric Trucks 

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword but an urgent requirement for the trucking sector. With rising fuel costs and pressure to cut carbon emissions, fleets seek clean transportation options. This growing demand is reflected in the popularity of electric trucks powered by lithium-ion batteries instead of diesel. 

Electric models provide an eco-friendly alternative without compromising on performance or cargo capacities. They deliver instant torque and fast acceleration while producing zero emissions at the tailpipe. Charging batteries is much cheaper than buying diesel, ensuring low operating costs. Trucks can be charged overnight at distribution centres and require little maintenance due to fewer moving parts. By incorporating Elysia battery software into electric vehicle fleets, businesses can optimise charging schedules and battery performance, further enhancing operational efficiency and reducing costs in the transition to sustainable logistics practices.

Major truck makers like Volvo, Daimler, and China’s BYD are diversifying their portfolios to launch electric trucks. Logistics giants like UPS and FedEx have committed to electrify their delivery fleets. Guided by environmental regulations, electric trucks will become familiar on highways in the coming years. 

electric truck charging
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3. Truck Platooning 

Truck Platooning leverages vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology to connect two or more trucks in a convoy. The lead truck communicates with the rest using wireless signals to control acceleration and braking automatically. Platoons stay close together, mimicking a road train to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. 

This connected system allows trucks to achieve closer following distances than possible with human reflexes alone. Sophisticated sensors ensure safety is not compromised, with the tech continually monitoring conditions to prevent collisions. Some models even feature vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication to coordinate platoons with upcoming traffic signals and automate speed adjustments. 

Besides lowering fuel consumption, platooning reduces labour costs through semi-autonomous operations. The lead driver oversees route navigation and complex manoeuvres while the rest steer accordingly without much driver input. This system will potentially enable one driver to operate three to four networked trucks - a solution to recruiting more drivers. Companies like Peloton Technology have already begun rolling out truck platooning in partnerships with major fleets. 

4. Digital Freight Brokerage 

Inefficient and outdated legacy systems, specifically freight brokers, have plagued the logistics sector. But digital disruptors like Uber Freight and Convoy are now introducing data-driven brokerage platforms for seamless shipper-carrier coordination. Their mobile apps allow carriers to tap into real-time shipment orders and select the best loads based on location, timing, and rates. 

Using the latest cloud technology and Big Data analytics, these brokerages aggregate information on supply and demand from multiple sources. Advanced algorithms instantly match shipments with the optimal carriers, enabling better utilisation of unused truck capacity. Shippers enjoy hassle-free coordination, transparent pricing, and reliable service. Automating formerly manual processes also lowers overhead costs for operators in this margin-pressured industry. 

While expanding choices for shippers, digital brokerage networks also simplify workflows for carriers. Truck drivers can directly accept orders and submit proof of delivery through their smartphones rather than relying on brokers. Removing exploitative middlemen produces fairer compensation and incentives for carriers to raise productivity. Large fleets are now developing apps and partnering with tech providers to participate in this digital marketplace. 

Trucking broker
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5. Blockchain Platforms 

As an industry handling expensive freight, transparency, and security are paramount in logistics. Blockchain offers an ideal solution through its encrypted, decentralised ledger, establishing trust between parties. By tracing transactions at every transportation point, blockchain provides end-to-end visibility across the supply chain. Shippers can track cargo location and status in real-time while the paperwork and manual checks are eliminated. 

Blockchain ensures the accuracy of information exchange between exporters, importers, carriers, customs, etc, by Providing one shared record of truth. It resolves a key trucking pain point - delays from duplicated and erroneous paperwork. Blockchain also quickens payments by enabling automated transactions through smart contracts. 

Leading transportation firms are already developing blockchain ecosystems specific to the sector with partners like IBM and SAP. Networks like BiTA allow member entities to collaborate on blockchain standards for supply chains. Besides enhancing freight tracking, blockchain applications extend to fleet maintenance records, invoice generation, and load boards. Using this game-changing technology, trucking and logistics companies are future-proofing operations. 

Final Thoughts 

The trucking sector has undergone its most radical technological shift since the invention of truck refrigeration in 1930. After years of stagnation, the industry realises the efficiencies technology can usher in. While still in the early days, innovative solutions like self-driving trucks and digital brokerage are gaining steady traction. With workforce challenges and sustainability concerns growing, widespread adoption of emerging tech seems inevitable in global trucking.  

Fleet operators are increasingly buying data-based logistics and automation to replace outdated systems. Though the technologies currently face maturation and regulation issues, their transformational advantages ensure trucks remain the prime movers of goods for the foreseeable future. 

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