While artificial intelligence (A.I.) prognosticators, tech investors, and automotive industry experts often view the rise of driverless technology from different perspectives, there is one concept that is universally binding among these varied groups - specifically, the notion that the transportation and logistics marketplace will be the first to fall under the sway of this emerging tech.
In terms of the timeline for this major ideologically shift in how goods and products traverse the highways of the United States, it might be happening a lot sooner than even these industry luminaries could have imagined. In fact, according to Wired magazine's Alex Davies, the push toward taking the wheel away from long-haul drivers and delivery personnel and putting it into the hands of autonomous systems is already happening.
As Davies explains in his review of Frigidaire refrigerator deliveries from the company's factory in El Paso, Texas, to its Southern California distribution center in Palm Springs, California, this organization has enlisted autonomous trucks developed by Embark to cover the 650-mile stretch between these two cities along the I-10 corridor.
Yes, an engineer from Embark does still ride in the cab to take note of the self-driving system's operations and to take control of the vehicle in the event of a technical issue or unexpected road hazard. However, the goal of this endeavor is to remove human interaction from the equation entirely - and to pave the way for a logistics business model that capitalizes on safer, more efficient tech-driven practices.
Outside of serving as a neat topic for discussion, the delivery of Frigidaire refrigerators over this significant stretch of highway also serves as an important milestone for the adoption of this technology. With over 70 percent of all goods transported throughout the United States hauled by trucks, and a substantial shortage of capable truckers within the nation's workforce, having a major brand like Frigidaire embrace the potential of self-driving cargo delivery sends a strong message to the rest of the industry, and potentially opens the doorway for more marketplace players to go "all in" on this technology as well.
Interested in learning more about this major step toward a world in which logistics and transportation are defined not by CB radios and NoDoz, but instead by cutting edge autonomous technology? Then go ahead and give the link below a click for the full story from Davies and the Wired editorial staff.