Each week we recap the hot topics in freight and compile them into one place so you can easily stay up to date on the industry. Check back each Monday and start your week off in the know. TRANSFLO & GO!
It’s a question that Omnitracs customers had to answer when a GPS week number (WN) rollover event on Nov. 3 caused some of the company’s older telematics units to miscalculate the time and receiver’s location. A rollover event occurs when the clock used by the GPS system reaches the 10-bit limit for counting weeks and flips back to “GPS week zero,” or Jan. 6, 1980. Most newer GPS receivers have been programmed to accommodate a 13-bit WN counter; Omnitracs said some of its older ELDs will need a firmware update.
The WN rollover event illustrates the importance of good ol’ paper backups—and the need to remind drivers what to do in the event of an ELD malfunction:
Trucking company payrolls grew by 1,300 jobs in October, ending a three-month stretch of job losses, according to preliminary employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The trucking industry added 11,000 jobs between October 2018 and October 2019, the slowest rate of annual growth in nearly two and a half years.
Still, truckers expect to be busy this quarter.
In its holiday shopping forecast, the National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will spend an average of $1,047 this holiday season, up 4% compared to last year. Holiday shoppers plan to spread their shopping across multiple channels and types of stores. More than half—56%—say they will shop online. Among online shoppers, 92% plan to take advantage of free shipping and 16% plan to use same-day delivery, which has doubled since 2015.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a new job site to help 18- to 20-year-olds with the U.S. military equivalent of a CDL find and apply for jobs with interstate trucking companies.
The site features motor carriers who are seeking to hire service members, reservists, National Guard, active duty, or military veterans as part of FMCSA’s Under 21 Military Driver Pilot Program, which will allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.
We’re seeing robots dispatched quite capably as curbside delivery vehicles. But they’re not quite ready to take the last few steps to your door.
Most robot navigation systems involve mapping an area ahead of time, then using algorithms to guide a robot toward a specific goal or coordinate. It’s great for street addresses but imagine, for instance, having to map every single neighborhood, including the configuration of each house within that neighborhood, along with specific coordinates of each house’s front door.
Now MIT engineers have developed a navigation method that doesn’t require mapping an area in advance. Instead, they’re enabling a robot to use clues in its environment to plan out a route to its destination using general terms, like “front door” or “garage,” rather than specific GPS coordinates.
For example, if a robot is instructed to deliver a package to someone’s front door, it might start on the road and see a driveway, which it has been trained to recognize as likely to lead toward a sidewalk, which in turn is likely to lead to the front door.
The new technique can greatly reduce the time a robot spends exploring a property before identifying its target, and it doesn’t rely on maps of specific residences, says Michael Everett, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “With this technique, we hope to drop a robot at the end of any driveway and have it find a door.” See it in action here.