The Rise and Fall of Digital Freight Brokerages and the Growth of Autonomous Trucking - The Road to Autonomy

The Rise and Fall of Digital Freight Brokerages and the Growth of Autonomous Trucking

Timothy Dooner, Host, WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discus the rise and fall of digital freight brokerages and the growth of autonomous trucking

The conversation begins with Dooner discussing his outlook for the freight market.

There is 8. 1% less brokerages than there were a year ago at the start of this year. But there’s still 17% more brokerages than we started at the pandemic. Everyone’s been waiting for not just volumes to go up, but the way freight works, it’s volume plus capacity. They’ve been waiting for the capacity to go down. Volumes are looking a little bit better. Things are receding and this year I’m hearing a lot more optimism.

– Timothy Dooner

The optimism is being shared by Walmart as there are rumors circulating that Walmart is looking to develop a digital freight brokerage. Since Walmart operates their own fleet, they have a unique data set that could potentially help them leapfrog the competition when and if they are introduce a digital freight brokerage service.

The freight market is currently turbulent as the demand for freight and the capacity to haul the freight are not in sync. Then there is the California electric truck mandate which will ultimately end up increasing the costs to ship freight, hurting both the carriers and the consumer. Could these mandates help to accelerate the adoption of autonomous truck as they are cheaper to operate?

It’s possible and as we are seeing in California, autonomous vehicle technology is not always welcome. in San Francisco vandals set fire to a Waymo autonomous vehicle with a firework, burning the vehicle to the ground. If the regulatory environment in California eventually allows autonomous trucks to operate, will similar vandals also try to cause damage to autonomous trucks?

Autonomous trucking is going to play a major role in the future of trucking and the global economy. As the technology is developed different business models are going to come to fruition and one of those is the licensing model. Kodiak has the potential to license their SensorPods technology, creating a lucrative revenue stream as they develop their autonomous trucking platform. This is in addition to their growing defense business.

Then there is Uber. Uber has investments in Aurora and Waabi, and has the Uber Freight division. Yet they do not operate an autonomous trucking fleet. Grayson and Dooner go onto dicuss Uber’s autonomous trucking investment strategy and who ultimately owns the asset.

Wrapping up the conversation, Dooner shares his 2024 outlook for the trucking market.

Recorded on Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Episode Chapters

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 1:34 Freight Market Outlook
  • 7:31 Walmart’s Rumored Digital Freight Brokerage
  • 10:42 Are Electric Truck Mandates Accelerating the Adoption of Autonomous Trucks
  • 13:57 Vandals in San Fransisco Set Fire to a Waymo Autonomous Vehicle
  • 18:20 Commercializing Autonomous Trucking
  • 25:32 The Business of Kodiak Robotics
  • 28:15 Autonomous Delivery Drones
  • 31:55 Uber’s Autonomous Trucking Investment Strategy
  • 39:18 Who Owns the Asset?
  • 42:59 Tesla Cybertruck
  • 43:52 Apple Vision Pro
  • 51:08 2024 Trucking Outlook

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