Can Your Trucking Business Survive Automation?

I know a lot of brothas and sistas who are doing very well in the trucking business. I applaud them for the 6 figure incomes they’ve achieved that have given them a good sense of independence. One of my first computer jobs in college was forking for a trucker who didn’t know he was grossing about $600k a year back in the 1990s. Before that, he just kinda kept the books in his head.

Having said all that, I must warn you that technology has increased rapidly in recent years. And I don’t want to see our net worth take another hit by not being prepared for what’s coming.

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For those who don’t know, I’m a technology businessman, specializing in cloud technology and computer software design. I am certified in cloud computing and work with artificial intelligence, machine learning and similar technology. I also help major corporations with business process design, especially around workflow, supply chain, etc. So long story short, I know exactly what I’m talking about.

As you keep hearing about Tesla, self driving cars are already here and have been for years. Flying drones that can deliver packages are also here. Many of you may not realize that airplanes are essentially flying computers that can fly themselves. They only have human pilots until the government deems them not necessary.

Let’s quickly skim through some articles about self driving trucks. Let’s start with an article that is very friendly towards independent trucking businesses: The American Truck Business Services website.

This article is called “Self-Driving Trucks: Are Truck Drivers Out of a Job?” It was originally written back in 2018 but updated July 2 2021. It does an honest job in outlining all of the advances in self driving trucks from Daimler, Waymo, Tesla and others. Towards the end, I think they were a little too optimistic about the threat to trucking jobs as we’ll see in a bit. Here’s how it ended:

“Think of the job of a truck driver slowly looking more and more similar to the job of an airplane pilot. The truck will be able to drive on its own, but the population will feel a lot safer knowing somebody is behind the wheel just in case.

“If you are a truck driver worried about your job being lost to an autonomous truck, we hope this update puts your mind at ease and makes you at least a little bit excited about the future of the trucking industry. Truck drivers will continue to be extremely important in the industry, even if there are self-driving trucks on the freeways.”

I certainly understand where the author is coming from, and public safety is going to be a factor. But make no mistake: the big companies of this world love money, and they especially love saving money. To many of them, public safety is just a cost of doing business, not a moral and ethics thing. Sure, they will put a human trucker on these drone trucks mostly to satisfy politicians, but you don’t want your business to be based too much on how politicians vote.

Let’s look at some other stories real quick:

Here’s an article this year from a well respected engineering organization that I’ve been a member of in the past:

“This Year, Autonomous Trucks Will Take to the Road With No One on Board…The startup TuSimple is deploying tractor-trailers that drive themselves from pickup to delivery”

Now check out this article from 6 years ago in 2015:

“Freightliner Unveils First Autonomous Semi-Truck Licensed to Drive Itself on Highways…The Inspiration truck can legally drive itself on public highways without the driver having to pay any attention at all”

Here’s another one from 2019:

“One Driver Steers Two Trucks With Peloton’s Autonomous Follow System…The technology is currently being tested on closed tracks, the company says”

This article goes on to say the guy who founded Peloton got $80 million in investments in this trucking technology all the way back in 2013. Here’s another article from this year:

“What will self-driving trucks mean for truck drivers?”

This quote from the article sums up how big companies are thinking:

“According to data from Acumen Research and Consulting, the semi and fully autonomous truck market is expected to reach approximately $88bn by 2027…

The technology has the potential to revolutionise the $700bn a year trucking industry that touches every corner of the global economy – creating new business opportunities and saving companies millions.

“It’s a huge opportunity. The biggest impact autonomous trucks will have is cost savings and efficiency,” says a professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University.

“The nice thing about autonomous trucks is that they’ll be able to operate 24 hours a day and drive a consistent mileage rate, making trucks safer and more fuel efficient.

“Freight will arrive at a destination faster. A human truck driver usually takes five days to go from New York to Los Angeles. It’ll take an autonomous truck 48 hours.”

From Forbes Magazine in April 2021:

“The Autonomous Truck Revolution Is Right Around The Corner”

“TuSimple – a provider of autonomous freight semi-truck solutions – has said their technology will be operational by 2024. Start-ups have been known to make extravagant claims. But TuSimple has gone public, is now being covered by the equity research firms, and over 5,700 vehicles have been reserved by sophisticated shippers or carriers in just the first four months. TuSimple’s timeline is looking more and more realistic.” Folks, pay attention…

“Currently, 24 states allow level 4 autonomous semi-truck commercial deployment. If no tragic accidents occur that result in negative publicity…the year 2024 will be the start of the autonomous driving race to replace human drivers…The autonomous trucking revolution is going to happen. And it is going to happen sooner rather than later.”

From June of 2021 comes this Business Insider article:

“Amazon is reportedly buying 1,000 autonomous truck-driving systems, which could pave the way for one day ditching drivers”

Amazon is working with an artificial intelligence company called Plus. Later in the article it says “Plus CEO David Liu told Insider’s Mark Matousek the company hopes to sell a product that does not require a driver by the end of 2024.”

In a related article from the same source, this same CEO of Plus was even more bold, with big investments and partnerships to back it up: “”We believe we don’t have to wait another four years, five years to start utilizing the technology to benefit the industry.”

Self driving trucks are here, awaiting the green light from more governments. The US government, in particular, the US Postal System, is right behind Amazon. UPS, FedEx, Walmart, Target, major food processing companies, etc., are all looking at using such technology as well. Transportation companies who haul hazardous chemicals may be the last group to adopt self driving trucks due to the dangerous cargo.

I’m saying all this to warn my brothas and sistas not to be too comfortable with how you do trucking today. It is changing, and changing fast. Don’t be caught slippin.’ Here’s a golden opportunity for our people to get a good head start on the coming shift in trucking. Start planning other ways to make a hustle in this business. Ever heard the expression “don’t have all your eggs in one basket?” This is true for any business you run, including trucking. If you were to hire me as your technology consultant, I would recommend diversifying your company beyond just human trucking.

So look at adding a computerized logistics service to your offering, combined with supply chain management. Also, servicing self driving trucks will be needed. Flying drones need to be serviced and programmed. As these self driving and flying devices move stuff from point A to point B, they will need to be guided by a cloud based technology called Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, a self driving truck can’t find its destination without being guided by a control center. And if the customer needs to know real time details about a shipment in a load, companies will be using IoT to track them.

Hint hint: I highly recommend you start learning about Internet of Things and the fundamentals of cloud technology like Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS as soon as possible. Trust me, you will thank me in 1-2 years. This technology is coming very fast and all companies are going in hard!

Get certified in these kinds of business services now so that in 18 to 24 months, you’ll be one of the few smart truckers who adopted new technology before it put you out of business. Keep me posted on your progress in diversifying your trucking business, and if you need one on one consultation, send me a message. If you’re not in trucking, but know someone who is, be sure to share this video with them.

And if you like the free content and want to help in some small way, the info should be at the bottom of the screen and links in the Description. Until the next video my warriors, war and peace.

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