Embrace technology, it isn’t going away

It’s that time of year again, when we all find ourselves making small talk with strangers by the fireplace with an egg nog in hand. Usually, these conversations start with, or at least circle around to, work. For me, this conversation will at some point include, “You write about what every month?”

And the inevitable follow-up questions, “How can you find enough to write about?”

For those outside the trucking industry, it comes as a huge surprise that there is enough happening in the world of trucking to fill a monthly publication. The real struggle, I tell them, is finding enough space to get in everything I’d like to include.

The pace of technological advances in the trucking industry over the course of the past couple years has been nothing short of mind-boggling. Think about it.

We’ve seen Daimler’s autonomous Inspiration Truck, a truck that can drive itself. We’ve seen a self-driving truck from Uber-owned Otto deliver a load of beer while the driver looked on from the sleeper cab. There are fully driverless trucks operating in underground mines in Sweden.

I’ve even seen ZF demonstrate the ability to back double trailers into position using nothing more than an app and a tablet. (Where was this when I was learning?)

We have seen many platooning demonstrations, in which the lead truck controls the ones following them, allowing the trucks to travel in the slipstream and reducing the total pack’s fuel consumption.

And now, this month, you can read about the Nikola One, a zero-emissions electric truck that just may work.

It has, at the very least, established credibility with the support of respectable companies such as Meritor and Ryder and its CEO and founder Trevor Milton won over more than a few skeptics at the truck’s glitzy launch event.

You can count among them the author of the comprehensive piece in this issue. Steve Sturgess has covered the trucking industry for decades and is a mechanical engineer. He’s not easily tricked.

Those of us who cover this industry have truly been spoiled and the pace of change doesn’t appear to be slowing. But it’s one thing to write about it, quite another to adapt to it.

Some or all of the technologies we see being demonstrated today will work their way into production and will have a dramatic effect on your livelihood and/or your future success. As with any sudden change, there will be winners and losers.

The winners will be the ones who figure out how to use these technologies to their advantage. The losers will be the ones who do nothing with the opportunities they create.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • I love the idea behind the Nikola.would have loved to drive one in a real life situation(now retired).Glad to see someone approach this mode in a logical manner.Personally,I think this can be made to happen.Let me know when your looking for volunteers to test drive.