As millions of people reportedly quit their jobs during the pandemic, the term “Great Resignation” has gained popularity. In addition to the hospitality sector, multiple sectors of the economy were affected (and continue to be affected). The pandemic has hit trucking, which was already experiencing labor shortages before the epidemic. Even though long-haul truckers earn up to $100,000, companies are having trouble filling cabs.
Is there a solution? Self-driving trucks.
Earlier this month, Volvo’s Autonomous Solutions (VAS) division announced it would soon launch a hub-to-hub autonomous transport solution in North America. Service providers, shippers, carriers, and logistics service providers will be able to use the service. The pilot program has already been signed up by VAS and logistics provider DHL. As part of the pilot program, the company is in the process of forming business partnerships with customers from other segments of the business. In addition, they will adapt the autonomous service to meet the needs of those segments.
“To move the world forward, solutions must be bolder, safer, smarter, and more sustainable to meet the increasing demand for freight,” said Volvo Autonomous Solutions president Nils Jaeger.
With Aurora Innovation’s Aurora Driver, VAS retrofits long-haul sleeper cabs with driverless hardware and software. A brand-new route between Fort Worth, in the northeast of the state, and El Paso, in the southwest on the border with Mexico, was announced by Aurora this week as part of its autonomous freight pilot with FedEx. This brand-new route, which runs between Dallas and Houston for 600 miles, is more than double the distance of the curoute. Paso-FPaso-FortWorthtWorth will run once a week, while Dallas-Houston will go every night.
Over the last two years, autonomous trucks have increasingly taken to the roads. In Texas, this is thanks to its mild weather, extensive highway system, and relatively lax regulatory environment. Even though these trucks are already being called “driverless” or “autonomous,” safety drivers remain on board for non-highway driving, and they’ll likely continue to do so for some time. In the near future, self-driving software will allow drivers to nap on long stretches of highway, which will enable longer uninterrupted mileage-at least, that’s the goal.
We are experiencing supply chain backups and labor shortages right now, so solutions like this are not only welcome, but necessary for keeping the logistics and shipping industries turning—and getting you your packages on time, stocking the shelves of your supermarket with fresh produce, and delivering the furniture you ordered months ago.
As Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ head of on-road solutions, Sasko Cuklev says, “We are committed to addressing the constraints faced by the transportation industry and enhancing society by providing scalable, autonomous freight capacity that unlocks new possibilities.