Future of TruckingIf automation, optimized digital networks, and changing consumer habits come to fruition as some experts predict, it could completely upend trucking as we know it today.

While the trucking industry outlook remains bright—the American Trucking Associations predicts freight tonnage to grow 28.6 percent and revenue a healthy 74.5 percent over the next 10 years —trucking, like other logistics modes, seems to be at the beginning of a period of digital disruption.

If automation, optimized digital networks, and changing consumer habits come to fruition as some experts predict, it could completely upend trucking as we know it today.

In exploring the major industry disruptors, detailed below, two disruptive trends are the most uncertain and pose the highest impact on the future of logistics, and trucking in particular: changes to the regulatory environment and the rate of technology adoption. The regulatory environment is dependent upon the decisions of U.S. policymakers; many factors could alter the landscape in the next few years, such as new political leadership or actions taken to alleviate the shortages of skilled drivers. Critically, the question many ask is how will government leaders manage the adoption of new technologies?

Will regulators allow driverless technologies on the road, or will new policies slow down adoption? Beyond that, regulations such as more active monitoring of truck drivers, environmental standards that limit emissions (and thereby force older trucks off the road), and free-trade agreements that alter import and export dynamics are just a few regulatory trends that could play an outsize role in the future of trucking.

The trucking market is also ripe for technological disruption, thanks in part to its reliance on a manual brokerage model. In the next few years, assisted driving in trucks to increase driver productivity and safety will become reality; the Internet of Things might allow for greater accountability and connectivity, connecting consumers and producers like never before; crowdsourcing solutions could supplant traditional brokers; robotics and predictive analytics could change warehouse management.

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