Truck industry tech players are introducing next-generation technologies and tools, collectively referred to as “Truck Industry Tech,” comprising route planning and freight management apps, driving assist platforms, autonomous trucks, and electric and fuel cell truck components.
These tech solutions aim to shape the future of the truck industry by improving road safety and fuel efficiency while moving traditional freight matching and route planning online, providing convenience and cost savings for truck drivers, fleets, and shippers. The Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, and camera technologies have become essential to fueling the industry’s advancements.
Route planning, online freight matching platforms, and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 1 autonomous technology are in the commercial stage, whereas autonomous trucks (SAE level 4 and 5) and electric and fuel cell trucks are still at the pre-commercial stages.
The trucking tech industry is dominated by incumbents, especially in route planning software, driving and safety assist tools, and autonomous trucks. In contrast, startups hold a notable presence in freight matching and tracking platforms, likely influenced by the success of the digital ride-hailing and hospitality industries. Despite being relatively capital-intensive, the autonomous trucks segment also has a high presence of startups as costs of autonomous technology have decreased due to the boom in the self-driving vehicles industry. For example, Waymo managed to bring its Laser Bear Honeycomb LiDAR prices down by around 90% to roughly USD 7,500 by 2019 from the industry norm of USD 75,000 a few years before.
Incumbents in the autonomous and alternative fuel truck space are well-established truck manufacturers, with the majority offering self-driving tech as well. For example, Volvo Trucks develops its own autonomous truck dubbed “Vera” while also offering a collision mitigation system called 'Volvo Active Driver Assist.'
Incumbents in the route planning and online freight platforms space include truck stop and travel center companies that introduce their own apps (TravelCenters of America, Love's Travel Stops), as well as other established road travel planning and freight matching companies with separate apps for truck drivers (Trimble MAPS, Zonar, and Direct Freight Services).