The Economics of Autonomous Trucks

In this post, Dr. Meny Benady, Head of Business Development at Bright Way Vision, shares his view on the Autonomous Trucking sector and market evolution and highlights where the company's original GatedVision technology can reduce operational costs, while dramatically improving road safety.   

“The case for autonomous trucks is stronger and they may become a reality faster than autonomous passenger cars, where cultural and psychological factors may slow down adoption. Unlike passengers, the cargo doesn't mind who drives the truck, nor if there's a driver at all, so less resentment is expected from that sector,” suggests Dr. Benady. 

AVs look like a natural choice for the industry to accelerate from two key perspectives: 

  1. Economic
  2. Simplicity & safety

The New Economies of Trucking 

Adoption of autonomous trucks could result in significant cost savings for trucking companies. Benefits that could lower transportation costs and improve operational efficiency include:

  • Reduced labor costs 
  • Eliminating the complexities associated with employing human drivers (maximum daily driving time - 11 hours, 70 hours per week, required rest break - 30 minutes per day, and off-duty rest of 34 hours per week)
  • Improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions
  • Improved speed and reliability of deliveries
  • Increased safety on the road by eliminating human error

However, this revolution in economics is critically dependent on the autonomous truck's ability to drive 24/7 - this implies driving at night and in any weather, at least as much as human drivers can. This depends on technology, specifically sensors, cameras, and environmental perception software as well as real-time computing capabilities to make safe decisions. 

Today sensor suite technology, often comprised of high dynamic range CMOS cameras, radars, and LiDARs, is not trusted to perform night driving safely due to the range limitation of cameras at night combined with the resolution limitations of radar and LiDAR. Thermal cameras for night vision are also considered in a few cases, but their useful application is limited to specific types of hazards such as humans and wildlife.

Once inclement weather is considered, all the traditional optical sensors will be limited and practically blinded, leaving only the inherently low resolution provided by RF (radar).

The key use case brought up by leading vehicle manufacturers is objects on the road, often known as fallen cargo, which may include wooden pallets, tire debris, or a motorcyclist wearing a black helmet lying on the road. These objects have a low profile and dimensions may also have a low reflectivity. 

The GatedVision camera system is probably the only cost-effective solution that enables clear vision and the identification of objects on the road while improving road safety at night and in all weather.

Bright Way Vision’s GatedVision cameras are known for offering full-resolution images and situation awareness in low light, rain, and fog - this revolutionizes road safety at night. The camera uses a high-resolution sensor that enables full situation awareness and detects and tracks objects at long ranges (250m). 

In summary, autonomous trucks could lead to significant cost savings for trucking and logistics, this will lower transportation costs and can consequently translate into product price reduction for the end consumer. These potential long-term benefits that will make autonomous trucks the only viable economic option for nonstop highway trucking depend, in many parts, on cost-effective technology, and our GatedVision camera is the real candidate to do that. 

Watch our camera drive clarity in pitch-black nights

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