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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on July 11, 2024 by  & 

Autonomous Trucking - Delivering on Hopes and Goods

The autonomous truck industry is experiencing a revival after the initial hype, with vehicle delivery numbers continuously breaking records. Companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States are eagerly entering the commercialization testing phase. Autonomous trucks are addressing real-world problems by saving transportation costs and optimizing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) through practical calculations. By 2044, it is expected that the global trucking fleet will be supported by an additional half a million L4 autonomous drivers, while the remaining drivers will either act as supervisors or work in less developed regions. The autonomous truck industry is projected to have an annual growth rate of 25.6% over the next 20 years. This is one of the key findings from the new IDTechEx research report, "Autonomous Trucks 2024-2044: Technologies, Trends, Forecasts".
 
Three pain points addressed by autonomous trucking. Source: IDTechEx
 
Trucking industry pain points that autonomous trucks address
 
 
Trucks have long been regarded as having great potential in commercializing autonomous driving systems. Compared to robotaxis and other mobility-service-oriented autonomous platforms, companies do not need to focus as much on user experience or integration within society. The purpose of autonomous driving systems in trucks is to address several critical issues within the industry, with driver management being the most prominent. Unstable social conditions and COVID-19 have deterred many from becoming truck drivers. Many young people are reluctant to spend their lives on the road when homeworking has become a viable way to build a career. The aging population exacerbates the labor shortage, making waning driver numbers cause a bottleneck in land transportation. Fewer drivers mean carriers are forced to increase wages to attract new and suitable drivers, thus raising operating costs.
 
Safety is another crucial consideration in the trucking industry. According to "Intelligent Safety White Paper for China's Road Freight Industry," there are 3.7 accidents per million kilometers in China's freight industry - equivalent to one traffic accident per driver every 16 months. The annual insurance payout is about RMB 30,000 per vehicle (US$4,286), with 37% of accidents attributed to driver error and 35% related to the lack of assisting equipment. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates that heavy-duty trucks and buses in the United States have 0.1 accidents per million kilometers, with 1% being fatal. The significant disparity arises from differences in road traffic infrastructure between western and eastern China, differences in management regulations between developed and underdeveloped areas, and reduced insurance costs and personal injury compensation.
 
 
Using autonomous long-haul trucks has the potential to reduce the number of accidents, as autonomous driving systems do not get distracted and can facilitate more efficient and effective communication with other vehicles or devices. IDTechEx's new report delves deep into the pain points of commercializing autonomous trucks, highlighting the reasons why the industry is choosing autonomy.
 
The commercialization path of autonomous trucks
 
In 2024, autonomous truck companies are actively conducting commercial testing in the hope of addressing the paint points listed above. After studying more than ten of the largest autonomous truck companies, IDTechEx has outlined two main commercialization paths. These paths are influenced by government regulations on autonomous vehicle testing in various countries, with some regions providing detailed policy support specifically for autonomous trucks.
 
Path 1: Stepping from L2 to L4
Led by Inceptio, the first path involves gradually upgrading the in-vehicle autonomous driving system from Level 2 (L2) to Level 4 (L4). The goal is to utilize L2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to pave the way for commercialization and gather real-world data to prepare for L4 autonomous driving systems. Although L2 cannot replace drivers, it can alleviate fatigue, extend driving distances, and enhance safety. In the Chinese market, carriers can drop from two drivers to just one on longer routes thanks to the convenience and safety available from L2-L3 ADAS trucks.
 
 
Path 2: Establishing High-Quality L4 Fixed Routes
The second path focuses on establishing high-quality L4 fixed routes (called "hub-to-hub") for short-distance (200-400 miles) autonomous or unmanned transportation. Sweden's Einride is a notable example of a company doing this, with three route plans in the UK, Norway, and Sweden. Companies need to pre-plan the routes for downstream transportation customers and set up related auxiliary facilities along the way to ensure the smooth operation of L4 autonomous driving. As an electric truck company, Einride has designed an autonomous driving network called "Grids" to address fleet optimization, tractor swaps, and battery management optimizations. Einride is already operating independently in Europe and the United States.
 
IDTechEx's report provides an in-depth analysis of these two commercialization paths and offers region-specific and market-specific forecasts.
 
IDTechEx believes that at the current stage, L4 autonomous trucks require more efficient route planning to reduce uncertainties along the way, thus improving the quality of the Operational Design Domains (ODD). The L4 hub-to-hub transport can consolidate cargo from multiple clients and maximize the use of the same ODD for L4 level transportation. This approach can save vehicle energy and enhance vehicle utilization.
 
 
Commercialization representatives in three continents
 
IDTechEx has tracked global and regional leaders in autonomous truck sales and found increasing disparities among them. The market environments in each of the three major continents have fostered their own leading companies.
 
China
China was the first to achieve the mass production and commercial delivery of autonomous trucks. Inceptio and DeepWay have made significant sales in their respective sectors—internal combustion engine (ICE) and pure electric. These companies leverage vertical integration, supply chain dominance, and economies of scale to solidify their early lead and extend their dominance into foreign markets.
 
Europe
Einride stands out as a leader in Europe, achieving L4 level commercial operations in three regions. Einride boasts a highly integrated management platform that oversees fleet operations, energy management, and freight volumes.
 
United States
The United States was the earliest to begin L4 level truck road testing, with numerous players involved. Kodiak and Aurora have accumulated leading global test mileage. However, regulatory challenges have slowed commercialization progress, with mass production expected in the coming years.
 
The IDTechEx report, "Autonomous Trucks 2024-2044: Technologies, Trends, Forecasts", provides detailed insights into the market share and growth prospects of key regions, including China, the U.S., and Europe. In addition to routes to commercial L4 deliveries, the report also includes assessments of technical maturity, value chain positioning, business models, and practical calculations to determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for different levels of autonomous systems (L0, L2, L3, L4) across various markets.
 
 
To find out more about this new IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/AutoTrucks.
 
For the full portfolio of autonomy market research available from IDTechEx, please see www.IDTechEx.com/Research/Autonomy.

Upcoming free-to-attend webinar

The Definite Future of Land Logistics: Autonomous Trucks Replacing Drivers
 
Shihao Fu, Technology Analyst at IDTechEx and author of this article, will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Thursday 25 July 2024 - The Definite Future of Land Logistics: Autonomous Trucks Replacing Drivers.
 
In this webinar, IDTechEx will summarize the current market landscape of autonomous trucks and their potential to revolutionize the trucking industry.
 
The webinar will include:
  • Comprehensive analysis of industry challenges and solutions
  • In-depth market dynamics and commercialization factors
  • Detailed TCO analysis and future market outlook
 
We will be holding exactly the same webinar three times in one day. Please register for the session that is most convenient for you.
 
 
Click here to check the timings and register for your specific time zone.
 
If you are unable to make the date, please register anyway to receive the links to the on-demand recording (available for a limited time) and webinar slides as soon as they are available.

About IDTechEx

IDTechEx provides trusted independent research on emerging technologies and their markets. Since 1999, we have been helping our clients to understand new technologies, their supply chains, market requirements, opportunities and forecasts. For more information, contact research@IDTechEx.com or visit www.IDTechEx.com.

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Technology Analyst

Posted on: July 11, 2024

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