Electronics and Semiconductors

Self-driving truck shipments to boom in next 5 years

01 September 2021
TuSimple is one of numerous companies developing self-driving truck technologies that is set to boom in the next 5 years. Source: TuSimple

More than 139,000 automated commercial vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2026, according to new data from ABI Research.

These vehicle shipments will rise at a whopping 186% from 2024 through 2026 as Level 4 autonomy moves to heavy-duty trucks and pilots across multiple regions.

(Learn more about the levels of self-driving cars at Globalspec.com.)

“TuSimple with Navistar plan to launch in 2024, with their Autonomous Freight Network underway with partners like Penske Truck Leasing,” said Susan Beardslee, principal analyst of supply chain management and logistics at ABI Research. “Others gaining momentum include Plus, planned for 2024 and IPO candidate Aurora, anticipating integration with PACCAR and Volvo in 2023.”

Others are moving toward commercialization across North America, Europe and Asia including Intel’s Mobileye, which is developing autonomous delivery vans, shuttles and robotaxis, and Waymo, which recently expanded its autonomous truck operations in Texas, Arizona and California.

Additionally, other automotive component companies are getting involved in autonomous trucking such as tire companies Bridgestone and Goodyear that are looking to integrate smart tires into trucks to help with safety. Bridgestone earlier this year made a minority investment in startup Kodiak Robotics for its Level 4 autonomous trucks.

Driving demand

The reasons for the increase in self-driving truck investment and involvement is being driven by the ongoing driver shortage happening around the world.

Self-driving trucks are seen as the next step in first-mile shipping and logistics that will help address the nation's current truck driver shortage, which has roughly 50,000 unfilled driver positions. That shortage is expected to grow to 175,000 by the mid-2020s, according to sources in the trucking industry. These autonomous trucks will also help with the increase in demand that is expected in the e-commerce industry, requiring more trucks on the road.

Other factors include:

  • Rising insurance rates
  • Growing fuel costs
  • E-commerce demand
  • Country-level environmental regulations

“The next five years will demonstrate viability, safety, and revenue paths for real-world highly automated driving, with a focus on heavy-duty vehicles on highways and delivery vehicles on city roads,” Beardslee said.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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