Trucking Giant Claims New Study Proves Self-Driving Trucks Can ‘Solve Driver Shortage’

Miami, FL — A trucking giant is claiming the results of a new study prove self-driving trucks can solve many problems plaguing the industry including the so-called driver shortage.

Ryder System, Inc. recently commissioned researchers at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) at Georgia Tech to conduct a project in order to better understand how to best deploy autonomous trucks and the potential return on investment of doing so.


ISyE researchers analyzed Ryder’s dedicated transportation network in the Southeast and developed an Autonomous Transfer Hub Network (ATHN) for the region that combines self-driving trucks on highways with conventional trucking operations for the first and final miles.

Researchers then introduced optimization models for routing and dispatching and evaluated the proposed autonomous network by comparing it with existing operations under various assumptions.


According to Ryder, the analyses indicate the ATHN with optimization technology, can reduce costs by 29% to 40% for a large network (depending on the price of autonomous trucks as well as the direct and indirect cost of operating them).

“In the transfer hub network, there is no need to return back empty after a delivery, and there is no need to limit working hours or to return to a domicile at the end of the day,” explained Van Hentenryck, who led the ISyE research team. “As a result, only 35% of the automated distance is driven empty, compared to 50%. This means that even if autonomous trucks would be as expensive as trucks with drivers, costs would still go down by 10%.”

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The study found additional cost savings came from “reduced labor costs and idle time” as well as the potential of keeping trucks moving 24 hours per day.

“If you think about ever-escalating consumer demands combined with capacity constraints, driver shortages, and regulatory and safety pressures, autonomous technology is on track to solve a host of industry disruptions,” said Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product innovation for Ryder. “It’s clear that, in order to realize the full benefit of autonomous trucking, shippers, receivers, and 3PLs will need to evolve today’s operating practices to meet the needs of tomorrow’s robotic trucks.”


Ryder is currently partnering with autonomous tech developers such as Waymo, Gatik, Embark, and TuSimple on other pilot programs.

“Our goal with these strategic alliances and our collaboration with ISyE is to help accelerate autonomous trucking nationwide,” Jones elaborated.

WATCH a video explaining more about the ISyE study below.

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