There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the possibility of autonomous trucks. Trucks with no driver? That possibility, if it will even happen at all in our lifetimes, is much loftier than say, electric powered trucks. Instead of worrying about the unlikelihood of your trucking job being taken over by robotics, you should be more concerned and EXCITED at the immediate change to electric trucks.
Electric Truck Possibilities
In the U.S., there’s been some resistance to the electric vehicle, particularly in the trucking industry. It’s time to get over it because they’re already doing it in Europe and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised an electric semi by the end of the year. The grumbling appears to be over the battery. What good is a battery with only life for 150 miles in the trucking industry? It’s a legitimate concern.
A positive example to take a look at is Scania’s hybrid tractor. The Swedish truck manufacturer does not sell trucks in the States, which is why we have not seen or heard much buzz about this. However, the hybrid tractor changes between two sources, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil and battery power. While not the kind of hybrid we are used to here in the States, a hybrid between gasoline and battery may be a logical first step toward full electric. That is, of course, until we can make batteries that will take drivers from point A to point B on one charge.
Luckily the cost of batteries and associated technologies are rapidly decreasing. This will give way to Elon Musk’s vision for our truck fleets. Just a few weeks ago Musk announced he will unveil an electric semi in September 2017. That created a buzz. Then just a few days ago he released an artist rendering of the new truck.
Needless to say, it looks more like something out of Tron than what truck drivers are used to. The biggest stand out is that it is missing mirrors, which makes the truck illegal on the road. But, keep in mind, it’s just an artist rendering! They never look exactly like the actual vehicle. One feature that looks appetizing is the wrap around windshield for optimal driver view.
Any Buzz is Good Buzz
As I already mentioned, the greatest criticism is that the trucking industry cannot fun on 150 mile batteries. No buts about it. This is where the practical idea of hybrid comes in. Combing battery power with hydrogen fuel cells, or natural gas, or diesel-powered generator seem the likely next step. But, the grumblers are back again. Many point out that hybrid was all the rage a few years ago and that starts up have since come and gone. Rome wasn’t built in a day, people! In the history of mankind, the automobile is a mere blip on the radar. Just because hybrid didn’t take off at light speed the first time does not mean a new manufacturer will not get it right in the near future.
Let’s just wait and see what Elon Musk has for us. If anything, this kind of buzz is a boon for the industry regardless of outcome. If there is buzz, people will take notice, and perhaps some younger people will want in on the evolving industry. Some may want to cross their arms, squint their eyes, and nay-say. But in reality, the trucking industry is in trouble with the shortage and in just a few years, more and more drivers will retire with few young people to replace them. Elon Musk talking electric semi’s is good for the industry, because the industry needs the attention. I don’t know about you, but September can’t get here soon enough!