The Autonomous Arms Race

Posted on Posted in Industry, Technology

In a vision of the future once reserved for science fiction, cartoons, and James Bond, the reality of the autonomous vehicle approaches faster than ever.  Since Uber and Alphabet have both decided that self-driving vehicles are a certainty of next-gen travel, they have been neck and neck in the race to build, test, and market their competing technology and services. The fight has been escalated by the recent $2.6 billion lawsuit in the works between Uber and Alphabet, alleging that Uber stole intellectual property and trade secrets from Alphabet. Beyond that, other heavyweights such as Tesla, Apple, General Motors, and Ford have started testing their own driverless vehicles, creating an all out sprint for the ultimate disruptive technology in the vehicle manufacturing and transportation industries.

The Road to New Industries

Once the dust has settled, and driverless cars begin to increase in number across the roadways of America, the technology can then start bridging the gap into other industries. For example, Alphabet’s Waymo, a company dedicated entirely to self-driving vehicles, recently began testing autonomous truck technology. Uber’s Otto, acquired by Uber in August 2016, created a truck that  drove 100 miles without human intervention by October 2016. While Waymo is building its own custom trucks, Otto is an attachment for existing trucks, which will create an interesting debate of utility versus dependability in the coming months and years.  

The Next Step for Autonomous Trucks

The natural next step for an autonomous truck could be in the construction industry with loose material transportation, specifically dump trucks. Similar to a freight truck, a dump truck transports material for long distances with a potentially significant amount of highway driving. And similar to the current inability of a freight truck to navigate city driving without human assistance, there is still a solution to be found for dump trucks to navigate the constantly changing landscape of construction sites. Until that time, however, businesses must continue to make it as easy as possible to connect human drivers with their current projects.

Check out how our virtual fleet management product, BlackTop, is connecting dump trucks to the job site in the Construction Technology Industry.