Editorial: Opportunities and Challenges

The opportunities and challenges inherent in the technological revolution underway in trucking are evident throughout this week’s issue of Transport Topics.

Two all-electric Freightliner trucks unveiled last week by parent company Daimler Trucks North America are the latest in a steady stream of electric and electric-assist models to be introduced to the industry. The trucks — one Class 8, one medium-duty — will begin production in 2021, but test models will later this year be in the hands of fleets for testing. DTNA President Roger Nielsen said the company is “all in” for the challenge of bringing electric-powered vehicles to North America, and — like executives from other truck- and equipment-makers who have made similar commitments — sees opportunity in the technology.

And they’re betting that fleets also see opportunity with an electrified future for trucking.

To be sure, many fleet managers are open to anything that can improve their operation. For some, that means adoption of sophisticated software programs that help them manage day-to-day operations. However, the data those programs manage can also — unfortunately — present an opportunity to hackers who seek to seize access to this valuable information. The challenge for fleets is to keep that information safe.

Panelists at an event hosted last week by two councils within American Trucking Associations warned that despite the many technological tools available to both hackers and security experts, the key battleground for data security is on the human front. Criminals use e-mail, text and good, old-fashioned phone calls in their attempts to collect information from employees. They also target telematics systems and public Wi-Fi in their quest to gain access to fleets’ information. Keeping up with all the ways thieves can target fleet information is a challenge, but one that should be taken seriously.

It’s also a challenge keeping up with the many technological innovations going on in trucking, but one that we at Transport Topics view as an opportunity to keep our readers informed. And we work to do so via many outlets, including our digital outlets and the newspaper in your hands.

Add to this our new podcast, called RoadSigns. It debuts June 11, with an episode focused on how ongoing development of autonomous technology will affect drivers in the years to come. Future editions will similarly focus on technological challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for trucking. We hope you’ll check it out.