Freight Roundtable hosts panel on self-driving technology

Future is ‘automated, connected, electric and shared’

At its October meeting, the Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable hosted a panel discussion on the future implications of autonomous vehicle technology for moving freight and goods. 

Planning for rapidly changing transportation technologies is part of the regional transportation planning now underway.

Rex Hughes (Madrona Venture Group), Bruce Agnew (Cascadia Center), and Scott O. Kuznicki (Transpo Group) discussed how autonomous vehicle technology may be implemented in the near future.

Many companies are currently investing in these efforts, and freight and logistics companies may be among the first to adopt new technologies. 

German automaker Daimler AG’s trucks division said it would test on U.S. roads a new technology called “platooning,” which allows large, digitally connected trucks to save fuel by driving close to each other in a row.

In California, a demonstration project will use 43 zero-emission battery electric and plug-in hybrid “drayage” trucks serving major ports. These are trucks used for short distances between port and warehouse.

Madrona Venture Group recently released a report looking at what it would take for autonomous vehicles to dominate I-5 by 2040.  The panel emphasized the importance for people and commercial drivers to be a big part of this implementation.

The Roundtable also heard a presentation on the “Last 50 Feet” of urban freight and goods movement in downtown Seattle. 

Barbara Ivanov of the UW Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center described research being done by doctoral candidates in partnership with the City of Seattle to identify all of the truck loading bays and to survey all the factors that impact deliveries once the driver stops the vehicle. 

Different types of buildings are examined, from historical, modern office, and residential to see where delays occur.  The goal is to provide data that may demonstrate how operational changes in buildings for package delivery may potentially improve delivery times, reduce failed first deliveries, and reduce street-level parking conflicts while improving congestion.

The Regional Freight Mobility Roundtable is an open forum for the discussion of topics related to the movement of freight and goods in the central Puget Sound region.