Source: Uber Freight, NBC News / YouTube; HD Hyundai
Long-haul shipments of the future will be made without humans. In a world first, a cargo ship completed a transoceanic voyage under the control of an autonomous navigation system. And Uber just signed a deal with Alphabet-backed Waymo to launch fully driverless trucks within the next few years. The tech could solve worker shortages, reduce pollutants, and improve safety in a logistics industry desperate for innovation.
Auto shipments — The cargo ship Prism Courage was launched by Avikus, a subsidiary of Hyundai. The ship was able to compensate for weather, wave heights, and run-ins with nearby ships via the help of the autonomous system. The tech could dramatically reduce the number of marine collisions, which cost companies over $20 billion each year. Human error is believed to cause up to 95% of these accidents. The system also provided a 7% increase in fuel efficiency and a 5% emissions reduction. With many benefits from automated vessels, the market for autonomous ships is expected to reach $236 billion by 2028.
No driver needed — Uber and Waymo’s partnership seeks to deploy autonomous trucks more efficiently on land. Under their business model, logistics companies and retailers will purchase the trucks and pay a per-mile use fee. Despite the hype around self-driving taxis, industry experts say that autonomous trucks will be the first self-driving vehicles to generate substantial revenue. This is because their driving environments are less complex. Logistics companies say the trucks will take over monotonous long-haul routes, while human drivers will handle shorter, complex routes that remain too difficult for the tech. Autonomous vehicles will halve driver costs, which account for more than 40% of per-mile costs. And since driver turnover for long-haul truckers is 94%, it could help solve the industry’s greatest weakness. With demand on the rise, analysts project the global autonomous trucking industry to reach $167 billion by 2035.