Artificial Intelligence: The Trucking Industry’s Biggest Asset

By Avi Geller, founder and CEO of Maven Machines via GlobalTrade

About 3.6 million professional truck drivers and another 7.95 million people work in the U.S. trucking industry. It’s an industry well-positioned to benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the AI market within the transportation industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 18% between 2017 and 2030, and its size increase from $1.2 billion in 2017 to $10.3 billion in 2030.

Truck manufacturers including Daimler, Volvo, Navistar, Paccar and others, have already begun developing autonomous truck technology, for example. Waymo, an American autonomous driving technology development company has also installed self-driving technology in semi-trucks and plans to test on haulage routes in New Mexico and Texas. Tesla plans to deliver its first trucks in 2021. Pittsburgh-based Locomotion, an autonomous trucking technology company, expects to equip at least 1,120 Wilson Logistics tractors with its Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) technology starting in 2022.

In addition to autonomous driving, the trucking industry has the potential to reap many benefits from AI technology in accident prevention and safety, fuel efficiency, route optimization and workflow management.

Accident prevention and safety

One hundred percent autonomous driving may be a ways off, but already we’re seeing safety controls incorporated into trucks. For example, a Tesla computer will control its trucks’ semi-autonomous system for accelerating, brakes and steering — though drivers will still need to keep a hand on the wheel.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised its HOS to provide more flexibility for drivers. However, many drivers still log 11 hours on the road each day — the potential for mistakes increases during the later period of a driving shift. AI-guided semi-autonomous trucks will help reduce safety hazards created from tired or distracted driving.

Fuel efficiency

One commercial truck can use over $70,000 of fuel each year. Multiply this amount by the number of trucks in a fleet, and you can see why trucking companies constantly search for strategies to improve fuel efficiency. AI-guided, self-driven trucks could cut fuel costs up to 15%, according to Plus (formerly A U.C. Berkeley Labor Center report estimated the industry could save $35 billion in fuel efficiency gains. Additionally, fuel monitoring and idle reporting features within AI-powered fleet management software platforms can help managers monitor fuel usage to reduce waste and costs.

Fleet management and route optimization

AI offers the perfect partner for fleet managers, increasing their effectiveness and helping to streamline and make processes more efficient. For example, these technologies can detect patterns humans might miss, increasing productivity by more accurately pinpointing which drivers to assign certain loads.

Route optimization benefits from AI, too. The technology streamlines route optimization, minimizing drive time and mileage by enabling fleet managers and drivers to find the most efficient, quickest order to schedule stops. AI can process traffic patterns and use algorithms to predict delays, even alerting dispatchers and managers earlier to facilitate load rescheduling or driver rerouting.

Drivers, fleet managers and customers benefit from AI-driven software capable of using real-time data about traffic, weather, and historical data on transit times to provide more accurate ETAs. Because AI constantly evolves, route optimization will become even more streamlined.

Workflow technology

The trucking industry has already benefited from many technology solutions designed to increase productivity and efficiency.

Drivers and fleets can use AI — together with cloud computing, machine learning (ML) and IoT — to move from paper management to digital management processes. Other technology has enabled fleets to identify customers affected by import tariffs, for example, and connect with those customers to develop mitigation strategies.

AI doesn’t just observe data or patterns. It’s capable of predicting potential scenarios based on past patterns. Workflow and fleet management software incorporating AI technology can help drivers and fleet managers with real-time navigation, data monitoring and predictive maintenance alerts. The future of AI within the trucking industry could include other businesses like capacity-as-a-service, predictive on-demand maintenance and shared insurance optimization.

AI’s future in the trucking industry

CB Insights reported that investors dedicated $2 billion to trucking tech startups in spring 2019. The transport and logistics sector represents $26 billion of total startup funding in the logistics industry.

Artificial intelligence has already begun to deliver on its promise to increase productivity, reliability, safety and sustainability within the trucking sector. While not a turnkey solution, AI technology relies on human knowledge to understand what to do. AI won’t replace people — it will reshape their roles and improve their work processes. AI is revolutionizing the trucking industry and promising to not just drive efficiency, but also better experiences for fleet management, drivers, customers and other critical stakeholders.

U-D Mercy to start vehicle cybersecurity institute with Department of Defense grant

By Fox 2 Staff, Fox 2 Detroit

The University of Detroit Mercy recently received a $1.12-million grant from the United States Department of Defense to establish the Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute, a regional-based, cybersecurity consortium.

Led by Detroit Mercy, the consortium consists of academic institutions in southeast Michigan and includes University of Arizona as a research partner. The partnership is meant to expand and enhance the cybersecurity engineering workforce through an applied curriculum developed in consultation with industry partners.

The consortium also supports upskilling and reskilling for vehicle cybersecurity by prioritizing underrepresented populations, military personnel and veterans. Instruction is scheduled to begin this fall, the release said.

The Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute initially includes Detroit Mercy, pipeline institutions Washtenaw Community College, Oakland Community College, and Macomb Community College, and University of Arizona, which will provide research support to the consortium through its research institute that was established in 2014.

University of Michigan and Henry Ford College will join the consortium as it enters its second phase during the 2023-24 academic year.

Paul Spadafora, director of Professional Engineering Programs for Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science, said it’s important to establish the consortium because cybersecurity is a growing threat.

“Without an increase to the workforce now, the cybersecurity risk to DoD and commercial ground vehicles will keep falling further behind the increasing threats from actors in multi-domain contested environments,” said Spadafora, who is a co-principal investigator for the consortium, along with College of Engineering & Science Dean Katherine Snyder.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of cybersecurity engineers is projected to grow 31% between 2019-29, much faster than the average for all occupations. In Michigan, the average pay for cybersecurity engineers in 2019 was $91,750, or $44.11 per hour.

To address the growing need for cybersecurity engineers, the Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute will build on existing relationships with automotive industry and government partners to provide students with valuable real-world experience.

“The talent level, funding and equipment in metro Detroit is plentiful and cutting edge,” Spadafora said. “The transformational work being conducted on autonomous vehicles by the U.S. Army DEVCOM Ground Vehicle System Center, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and numerous start-ups and supplier partners makes the metro Detroit area uniquely qualified to partner with Detroit Mercy and its consortium partners.”

Curriculum for the consortium will be developed with the workforce in mind. It includes associate, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees, stackable graduate certificates, hands-on laboratory training and cybersecurity immersion camps for high school students.

As vice president of Global Cybersecurity at General Motors and chairman of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Kevin Tierney sees the automotive industry’s shortage of cybersecurity personnel firsthand. Tierney believes the industry will benefit from a cybersecurity consortium, like the Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute.

“We envision that the Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute will lead in the education of our current and future company employees, expand the competency of our workforce to design and protect secure physical cyber systems, including those in electric and autonomous vehicles,” Tierney said.

The Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute aims to become self-sustained after the fourth year of the program, with goals of developing qualified cybersecurity graduates and creating a multi-pathway educational structure that meets the needs of the vehicle industry and government partners.

Detroit Mercy is experienced in electrical engineering and computer science, autonomous and electric vehicle and cybersecurity-related curricula, offering students a variety of undergraduate, graduate and certificate options through the College of Engineering & Science as well as the University’s Center for Cybersecurity & Intelligence Studies.

The grant is awarded through Griffiss Institute’s Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ program, which establishes cyber institutes at higher learning institutions with the purpose of critical cyber operational skill development for future military and civilian leaders.

In addition to the Metro-Detroit Regional Vehicle Cybersecurity Institute, Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science leads several consortiums, including ReBUILDetroit, iDRAW and Fly-CURE.

Detroit Mercy’s commitment to helping veterans and military personnel achieve success has been recognized both locally and nationally, earning high marks from Military Friendly Schools and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The University has also been designated a Center of Academic Excellence by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.