Commercial Vehicle ADAS and Self Driving Business Case

Commercial Vehicle ADAS and Self Driving Business Case

Day 2 of our conference will provide a deep dive into trucking industry challenges and the expected solutions provided by connectivity and autonomy.  Technology adoption by commercial vehicle strongly depends on the business case justifying the investment.  Since commercial vehicles are used in many different vocations, it is likely the adoption rates will vary across the applications. Our speakers will be discussing this topic in detail along with their views the initial killer applications for IoT and autonomous features.

The key cost saving opportunities with on-road commercial vehicles are:

  • Fuel usage

  • Maintenance

  • Insurance

  • Operational efficiency (more cargo delivery per day)

At least the first three of these factors scale with vehicle mileage.   Line haul applications with several hundred miles travelled each day is the key candidate to be an early adopter of connected and autonomous technologies. For this reason, L3 - L5 autonomous technologies including platooning have been a subject of significant research, deployment and commercialization in highway trucks, driven by the potential for significant fuel cost and driver cost savings.  Hence, many research groups are expecting to see platooning on the roads in Japan, Europe and the US in the next 3 to 8 years. 
Opportunities for autonomous technologies to migrate to other applications, however, may be limited.  For example, short haul (day trip) heavy duty trucking applications have a reduced proportion of highway miles and hence, less opportunity for cost savings.   In these cases, the cost of the technology becomes more critical to ensure appropriate return on investment.   
Ricardo recently considered the cost benefit of different autonomous technologies for line haul and a last mile delivery service with class 6 trucks.   Key points from the analysis are:

  • Public domain technology costs were assumed, and we would expect these to reduce in time.

  • ADAS technologies themselves may struggle on pure financial benefit, but they do bring increased safety and ease of driving would be well received by fleets and drivers

  • Semi-Autonomous (L3) financial returns can be acceptable, but are sensitive to the real world delivered fuel economy savings

  • Fully autonomous (L4+) line haul trucks have a strong financial benefit as expected.

  • Last mile delivery struggles for financial benefit for two reasons (1) the daily miles are low and hence fuel savings cannot cover the technology cost, and (2) its not clear how the goods move from the vehicle to the delivery point.  If this needs to be done by a person, then there may be no benefit in eliminating the driver.   Its going to be about the last few yards of delivery.  Although there are some concepts to overcome this, such as having the customer collect their goods from the vehicle.

  • Industry efforts to improve cost-benefit also include assessing revenue and profit growth opportunities such as new service based business models

Line haul has clear benefit from platooning and full autonomy unlike the specific last mile delivery scenario considered

Ricardo’s analysis is summarized in the chart below.  Note the costs benefits for Full-AV line haul truck includes recognition of a 30% improvement in freight efficiency since the trucks can operate 24/7 without driver mandated rest stops.

Cost-Benefit Comparison for the Scenarios (excludes connected services)
Commercial Vehicles graph
Benefit for last mile is limited due to relatively low OPEX costs and no automation of moving package from vehicle to doorstep.

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