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Autonomous Truck Market: Global Industry Growth, Trends and Forecast Analysis For 2025

Increasing shortage of human drivers in the trucking industry is expected to drive Autonomous truck market during the forecast period; market in North America is expected to expand at a significant growth rate during 2017 to 2025.
Published 14 March 2018

An autonomous truck, which is also known as self-driving truck, can run on the roads without the physical presence of a human driver. Autonomous trucks utilize advanced technological systems such as improved quality sensors and cameras, which in turn eliminate the requirement of the physical presence of a driver for running the truck. The platooning of vehicles, which is also known as vehicle-to-vehicle interaction, is an upcoming concept in the autonomous truck market and has been gaining significance for the last few years.

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Increasing shortage of human drivers has been observed in recent years owing to the ever-increasing volumes of goods and materials being shipped and transported by means of trucks. For example, according to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry is witnessed a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers in 2017, owing to the rising demand for transportation of materials in large volumes by means of trucks. This increasing shortage of human drivers in the trucking industry is expected to drive the autonomous truck market during the forecast period. Furthermore, an autonomous truck does not face the restriction of number of working hours, as is faced by a human driver driving the truck. The usage of an autonomous truck can thus increase the shipping volumes, as compared to those achieved by a truck driven manually by a driver. This is further expected to boost the autonomous truck market in the near future.

An autonomous truck also reduces the probability of accidents caused by human error due to driver negligence. This is further anticipated to propel the autonomous truck market during the forecast period. Increasing efforts being taken by the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as well as the governments of various nations across the world in order to develop and implement autonomous trucks equipped with high technology at an affordable price are likely to fuel the autonomous truck market in the near future.

An autonomous truck operates by means of advanced electronic and software systems. These highly advanced electronic and software systems are prone to the threat of hacking. Hacking of the software system, by means of which the vehicle operates, can directly place the control of the vehicle in the hands of the hacker. This is likely to lead to accidents, leading to severe monetary losses. A newly emerging technology in autonomous trucks is robotic trucks. Robotic trucks cannot react to certain situations, as a human driver can, as in case of a four-way intersection. This can lead to accidents. Also autonomous trucks can cause issues of unemployment, especially in developing regions of the world where truck driving is a major means of earning for people from a certain section of the society. These minor flaws in autonomous trucks are likely to hinder the autonomous truck market to some extent during the forecast period.

 The high adoption rate of the advanced technology, which is employed in autonomous trucks, is estimated to lead to several job cuts in the next few years. This is anticipated to witness resistance to some extent from some sections of society, particularly in developing countries across the world where truck driving is perceived as a means of earning a livelihood by a considerable proportion of the nation’s population. This is anticipated to restrain the autonomous truck market to some extent in the near future.

Based on level of automation, the autonomous truck market can be segmented into function-specific automation, combined function automation, limited self-driving automation, and full self-driving automation. The limited self-driving automation or semi-autonomous trucks segment is currently dominating the autonomous truck market owing to the presence of ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) in these vehicles and the rising awareness about taking necessary safety precautions among consumers. However, the increasing efforts being taken by governments to promote the usage of fully autonomous trucks are expected to fuel the full self-driving automation segment toward the end of the forecast period.

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Based on the type of sensor, the autonomous truck market can be divided into radar sensor, LiDAR sensor, image sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and fusion sensor. Currently, the radar sensor segment is dominating the autonomous truck market owing to its numerous advantages such as light weight, capability to operate even in adverse environmental conditions such as rain, fog and snow, long range detection, and flexible mounting. A novel type of sensor, known as fusion sensor, is being developed, which combines the properties of both radar and LiDAR sensors. The fusion sensor is currently in the developmental stage. However, extensive research and development activities being carried out in the field of fusion sensors are expected to provide lucrative opportunities for the fusion sensor segment of the autonomous truck market toward the end of the forecast period.

Based on the hardware and software forecast, the autonomous truck market can be classified into communication systems forecast, camera forecast, and GPS system forecast.

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