The falling costs of advanced safety technology for trucks is helping fleets see the bottom-line benefit, according to a new market analysis from Navigant Research.
Automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist are becoming so popular that Navigant expects advanced driving assistance systems to be about 35 percent of commercial vehicle sales this year.
The North American rollout is slower than in Europe, where regulators required some advanced safety technologies as early as 2015.
Adopting ADAS also collides with the industry’s slim profits, low production and infrequent equipment turnover, Navigant said in the study, which Trucks.com previewed.
Some truck makers are moving into automated driving. Daimler Trucks North America offers an optional suite of technologies is on its 2020 Cascadia flagship that allow hands and feet free driving. Other makers rely on suppliers for advanced driver assistance systems.
Current market trends suggest an 11.5 percent compound average annual growth rate for advanced driver assistance systems from about 1.8 million vehicles in 2019 to just under 6 million in 2030, Navigant said.
Platooning, which uses automatic braking and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, to digitally link two or more trucks, likely will bridge automated and autonomous trucks, according to Navigant. Many heavy-duty trucks sold in 2019 have components needed for platooning, which saves fuel by reducing the gap between trucks. But platooning needs to be proved safe, Navigant said.
Driverless trucking will be scarce through 2030 because of safety testing and the need for federal regulations, Navigant said.
“High-level automation will not eclipse 1 percent of annual sales until 2028,” Navigant said.
Once fully developed, higher-level automation will exceed a 90 percent compound annual average growth rate because it could dramatically reduce labor costs. Driver wages and benefits made up 43 percent of a truck’s operating cost in 2017, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.
Productivity also would rise because driverless trucks would not be subject to hours-of-service regulations. A human driver is limited to 11 hours behind the wheel in a 14-hour period.
The typical heavy-duty truck is driven about 100,000 miles a year. Removing mandatory downtime could double the truck’s time in use and address a persistent shortage of long-haul drivers, Navigant said.
Technology will continue to advance. Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple has camera technology that adjusts to sudden lighting changes, such as exiting a tunnel into bright sunlight. That increases how long it can run in a day to 80 percent from 50 percent, the company said.
Public perceptions of autonomous vehicles and relying too much on partially autonomous systems are issues that need to be managed, the consulting firm said.
“Higher levels of automation can lure drivers into a false sense of security,” Navigant said.
A recent AAA survey of attitudes toward autonomous vehicles found that 71 percent of respondents said they are scared of riding in a driverless vehicle.