Artificial Intelligence Meets Trucking

Posted · Add Comment

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science of teaching computers to think like humans but faster and without bad habits. It is presently employed in autonomous trucks already being tested on North American highways. And in many cases is already in use in existing OEM and aftermarket truck applications.

The Purpose of AI in Trucks

The main purpose of incorporating AI within heavy trucks is to improve efficiency and safety. The software and accompanying sensors make faster decisions than humans with longer reaction times. The result is better overall performance and enhanced efficiency along with greater safety. The idea is that removing responsibilities from inconsistent human drivers achieves AI’s purpose.

Driverless trucks being tested use AI vision to watch the road ahead for any unusual instance that may require deploying certain functions such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) or steering around an obstacle in the road ahead. Collision avoidance is already recognized as a major safety factor to benefit fleets, reducing bad accidents and potentially nuclear verdicts.

AI can also be used to monitor driver habits and behaviors in order to change these, effectively coaching drivers to become better at their craft. Hard acceleration and harsh braking are two such instances that will be used to show drivers how to improve safety. AI recognizes positive driving habits and promotes them in coaching operators, thanks in part to the technology.

Steady Progress

AI is coming to trucks sooner than it will show up in automobiles. That’s because trucks travel mainly in straight lines on highways, staying in a lane for long periods at a time. Cars, however, travel much of the time in urban areas where many more accidents and other unpredictable occurrences and distractions take place. AI for cars will require much more added intelligence than that needed for heavy duty trucking applications. Baby steps, folks.

And because AI in trucks will not initially be ready for the unpredictable occurrences of urban areas, truck drivers will still be needed to operate trucks in cities and towns at least until AI for trucks graduates to those areas. And that may be some time off.

Other Benefits of AI in Trucks

It is expected that AI will result in reduced operating costs for fleets through fuel savings, reduced repairs by eliminating hard driving habits, and even insurance savings due to the safety practices with AI. The intelligence garnered through data collection can also be used to match the right driver for each load to increase fleet efficiency.

We know of at least one manufacturer that has already road tested its AI automated cruise control for heavy trucks and that product is now available for both OEM builds and aftermarket installs. Early reports say that it provides greater fuel efficiency by maintaining safe speeds and also enables greater safety than human drivers.

Route Planning

Optimized route planning is another benefit for fleets with AI. It gets freight delivered on time and makes for happy shippers and receivers. Happy shippers and receivers quickly turn into repeat customers and may also refer others to your efficient fleet services.

Back Office Benefits

AI is also being used by fleets to automate routine back office procedures that normally consume much human effort and time. AI makes decisions quickly and updates accounts, all with accuracy and consistency. And for fleets it can cost less than human labor and never takes a sick day. Even dispatch can be enhanced using the technology and transforming transportation as we know it. 

But remember this: AI is still in its infancy when it comes to truck applications. We will see much more use of it in future as technology progresses. It’s predicted that heavy trucks, with the help of AI, will one day be completely driverless.

Computers really can think like humans without bad habits. Quicker too.

Why Trucking Needs Artificial Intelligence

We’re in favor of anything that can make highways safer, reduce driver fatigue, and make fleets more productive and profitable. AI brings it. Get on board.