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Trucking and Technology: Looking Forward

 It seems technology and its advances are more and more frequently infringing upon many of the jobs performed by humans. Until now, at least, the trucking industry has remained immune to these job infringements as trucking has remained a strong field for new employment. Whether that trend can continue remains to be seen. Waymo, Uber and Starsky Robotics are all companies either testing or planning tests for autonomous or self-driving tractor trailers.

Before we review those looming autonomous truck threats let's assess the trucking industry from a general perspective. The U.S has approximately 5.6 million registered semi-trailers. An additional 1.9 million semi-trucks are also registered in the United States. California, Texas and Florida alone account for one third or about 630,000 of the 1.9 million trucks registered

A whopping 68% of all U.S. goods are still delivered by truck. There are about 3.2 million truck drivers hauling these goods. The vast majority of trucking companies have 6 trucks or less in stock. This may be of interest to those who want to become owner-operators.

Google subsidiary, Waymo, is scheduled to begin autonomous tractor-trailer testing this month in Atlanta. Existing trucks have been outfitted with autonomous driving capabilities. Drivers will be present in the test vehicles and can take control, if needed. The trucks will haul Google goods during the test period. Waymo is expected to have agreements with several shipping companies at their launch event. It's not currently known if drivers will also participate in the actual implementation period. 

Each year approximately 190,000 new semi-trucks are sold. Of that total, one third (63,000) is sold by the top selling company, Freightliner. Navistar International, PACCAR and Volvo round out the top four companies in semi-truck sales. Since the test trucks were actually modified existing trucks, some mutual agreement may be forthcoming between these manufacturers and Waymo which could benefit drivers.

As shown, the trucking and hauling industry is still heavily relied upon by consumers and is probably here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, it would also be wise to stay up to date with these developments and be prepared to adapt should the industry suddenly move to a technological solution regarding the movement of commercial goods.

So, whether owner/ operator or an individual driver, Michigan Truck Sales has all your trucking needs covered. We specialize in many of the aforementioned brands of trailers and also have an excellent service and repair facility. Please don't hesitate to contact us.


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