Trucks will be transformed over the next decade.
If you're one of the 1.6 million Americans that work as a truck driver, then you might want to stop reading now. Autonomous big rigs are coming. Self-driving trucks have already driven across Europe unaided as part of ongoing tests being carried out across the continent. Within the next couple of years we expect to see them in commercial use and within the next decade they could look something like the 'Volvo Autonomous Carrier' as penned by industrial product design student, Kaan Karagoz, via autonomous car website onautonomous.
Inspired by what he saw in the movie 'Logan,' the Turkish student went home to identify the problems of manned trucks with the aim of finding solutions in creating their autonomous counterpart. Without the driver, for example, the space for cargo increases significantly. The necessity of a driver's cabin also effects the design, making it aerodynamically inefficient, poorly balanced, and awkward to maneuver. Another interesting problem he highlighted was that cargo can only be loaded from the side or the rear and as factories have different size loading bays, loading and unloading cargo can be an unnecessarily inefficient process. Instead, Karagoz envisions a truck where loading is possible from all sides of the trailer.
Studies have shown that labor makes up the vast majority of transportation costs. Drivers are required by law to take an eight-hour break after 11 hours of driving, slowing down delivery times. Drivers are also often paid by the mile, incentivizing them to drive faster and burn up more fuel. Self-driving trucks will eliminate these problems and, with designs like this, will look good while doing so. Without drivers, and by utilizing electric powerplants, delivery costs, not to mention emissions, should be significantly reduced.