An interesting aspect of the Salt Lake City-based Nikola motor company’s Nikola One class 8 truck is the “Nikola Shipments” system. The truck driver has access to listings of available open loads uploaded by freight brokers. The truck driver punches in his or her location and destination and the system calculates the best route to take for maximum profitability. This is projected to add up to an additional 25% income per trip.
Truck Driver Benefits
Now what if this system was available to any truck driver driving a Wi-Fi enabled truck? What if a truck driver was alerted via Wi-Fi to an accident up ahead and given an alternate route to avoid it without adding too much additional drive time? What if a truck driver could order a meal from her favorite restaurant, pay for it and have it delivered to her cab as soon as she arrives in the parking lot?
Smart highways make all of this possible and they could be here sooner than you think. The impetus for this is the accelerating development of autonomous vehicles. Uber technologies are testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and their Otto truck division has already delivered a full load of Budweiser beer. Peloton Technologies hope to be platooning trucks this year.
States Are Onboard
Transit planners envisage highways embedded with fiber optics, Wi-Fi and cameras enabling autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles to travel safer, faster and with greater fuel efficiency. A number of states are already researching this. Ohio is planning to spend $15 million to make a 35 mile stretch of US 33 a test bed for autonomous and connected vehicles. Virginia has a 2.2 mile long two-lane highway near Blacksburg it is using for smart highway research.
Other states are looking at this too, including Utah, but if Donald Trump is true to his word and invests in rebuilding our infrastructure, I see a lot more states jumping into the fray with the promise of additional federal dollars.
Innovative Private Companies Will Lead the Way
However the true lead for smart highway technology will come from private companies. One of those is Kansas City-based Integrated Roadways who make Smart Pavement™, which is durable, precast concrete sections embedded with digital technology and fiber optic connectivity to transform ordinary roads into smart roads.
“We need to change ever-so-slightly how we think about roads,” Integrated Roadways founder Tim Sylvester said in a Startland News article. “Change it from ‘a hard flat thing that just kind of sits there’ into ‘a hard flat thing that just kind of sits there, but has cool stuff inside it that makes it possible to do new things, too.’”
A Win-Win for All Stakeholders – Including the Truck Driver
Integrated Roadways have put together an attractive package. According to the company Smart Pavement™ precast concrete technology lasts 4x longer than traditional asphalt construction. It’s 95% less costly to install versus traditional highway construction and up to 80% less in total cost of ownership. States could charge for connectivity and private sector communication service providers could lease the pavement to build additional networks. The business model is an apparent win-win for all stakeholders which could be a significant driver for early adoption.
So you truck drivers could start to see the benefits of smart highways pretty soon. Safer, more comfortable, and more profitable driving plus a hot meal waiting for you as soon as you drive up in the parking lot. What could be better than that!
If you’re interested in learning how shipping by rail might better meet your freight transportation needs call New Mexico Transloading at 505 – 908 – 1911. We’d be delighted to have a conversation with you.