Self-Driving Truck Makes Cross-Country Trip, Maritime Shippers Prepare for New Environmental Regulations
Self-Driving Freight Truck Makes Cross-Country Trip
For the first time ever, an autonomous freight truck drove across the U.S. while hauling cargo. The truck, owned by Plus.ai, made the trip from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania to deliver 40,000 pounds of Land O’Lakes butter.
The trip was done mostly by the autonomous vehicle, but there was a safety driver present to take over when needed. According to Plus.ai, the truck was able to safely drive through the day and night, construction zones, mountains and inclement weather.
The shipping industry is looking to the automation of trucking as a way to make up for the current truck driver shortage, which stands at about 60,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations.
While the industry is still years away from unmanned trucks making long journeys, trips like Plus.ai’s show that the current truck driver shortage may not be an industry crisis forever.
New Environmental Regulations to Impact Maritime Shipping
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all ships operating in open waters will have to comply with new environmental regulations set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These regulations are aimed at cutting sulfur oxide emissions from ships by 77%.
The reduction in emissions will benefit the health of human and marine life alike, but will prove costly to the carriers that bear the responsibility of updating the ship’s equipment. According to Industry Week, thousands of ships will need to be taken out of the water to be updated with scrubbers, which are one of many options that carriers have to meet the new regulations.
Complying with the IMO’s new rules won’t be cheap for carriers or the economy. According to estimates by S&P Global, the shift in regulations will produce a total global impact of more than $1 trillion over the next five years.
The economic impact will include service disruptions that will result in the prices of maritime shipping increasing. One indicator of maritime shipping, the Baltic Dry Index, has already reached a nine-year high in September.
The true impact of the IMO’s regulations, and whether carriers have properly prepared for them, will become clearer when the regulations take effect on Jan. 1.