Autonomous Trucks 2024-2044: Technologies, Trends, Forecasts

For more information, visit https://www.idtechex.com/en/research-report/autonomous-trucks-2024-2044-technologies-trends-forecasts/1016.

Heavy-duty autonomous trucks – US, EU, and Chinese truck market, key players, trends, safety, regulations, industry analysis, autonomous truck sensors, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), enabling technologies, and market forecasts.

In recent years, the development of autonomous driving technology in the trucking industry has progressed rapidly, with numerous technology companies and truck manufacturers initiating commercial trials of autonomous heavy-duty trucks. Although full commercialization remains some distance away, the advancements in this technology offer substantial potential for addressing current industry pain points.

Critical Challenges in the Trucking Industry

Today, the trucking industry faces critical challenges, including high operational costs, driver management issues, and safety concerns. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the U.S. trucking industry faced a shortfall of more than 100,000 drivers, a number that could increase to 160,000 by 2028. The industry needs to hire one million drivers over the next decade to bridge this gap, replace retiring drivers, and meet growing shipping demands. Attracting younger generations is particularly challenging as they are reluctant to spend extended periods away from home. The aging population in Asian countries like China is expected to exacerbate labor issues in the next decade. The driver shortage has significantly increased international freight transportation costs and operational expenses for trucking companies. Autonomous heavy-duty trucks offer a solution to these challenges. Autonomous driving systems can eliminate distractions and human errors, thereby improving safety. They also enable more efficient communication with other vehicles and devices, streamlining operations and enhancing overall efficiency.

Industry Dynamics and Market Shifts

IDTechEx has observed significant activity in the heavy-duty long-haul trucking sector, some companies, such as Inceptio, Deepway, and Einride, have advanced from the proof-of-concept stages to securing small-scale commercial opportunities. However, the fall of several industry giants, including TuSimple, Waymo, and Embark, underscores the significant challenges faced in the autonomous trucks sector. This highlights the volatile nature of the industry and the hurdles in transitioning from innovation to large-scale commercial viability. Autonomous trucks were once considered one of the most commercially valuable and rapidly monetizable products in the autonomous driving sector, with American and European companies playing pivotal roles in their early development. However, post-pandemic global freight fluctuations and the pace of autonomous driving regulation implementation have slowed commercialization. Leading companies such as Waymo and TuSimple have either exited the autonomous trucking market or scaled down their strategic focus.

As regulations for autonomous driving gradually take shape to drive commercialization, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will become a decisive factor in determining the penetration rate of autonomous truck systems. Due to the extensive operating hours of trucks, energy consumption and labor costs are major factors influencing the TCO of autonomous trucks. Although the industry claims that autonomous truck systems can reduce costs by over 15% and eliminate labor costs, IDTechEx has conducted practical calculations to determine the TCO for different levels of autonomous systems (L0, L2, L3, L4) across various markets. Additionally, IDTechEx has compared the TCO of internal combustion engine (ICE) platforms with electric platforms.

Comprehensive Analysis and Future Outlook

This report explains the reasons behind the development of the autonomous trucking industry, including policy support for autonomous vehicles and trucks in Asia, the U.S., and Europe, future policy forecasts, and the movements of over a dozen key players based on IDTechEx’s proprietary research, which includes 20-year forecast data.

IDTechEx’s in-depth research into the Chinese market highlights the value of China’s autonomous truck sector and the capabilities of its startups such as Inceptio, Plus.ai, Pony.ai, TrunkTech. IDTechEx also examines different drivetrain configurations for autonomous trucks and proposes correlations between energy types and vehicle performance.

Shihao Fu
Technology Analyst, IDTechEx

Dr James Jeffs
Senior Technology Analyst, IDTechEx

Dr Xiaoxi He
Research Director and Topic Lead, IDTechEx

Here you’ll find a wealth of practical technical insights and expert advice to help you bring AI and visual intelligence into your products without flying blind.

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