By: Burak Sen
Studies conducted on connected and automated trucks have proven the potential benefits of the technology with respect to traffic safety. However, in order for it to be a sustainable alternative truck technology, its sustainability performance, i.e. potential environmental and socioeconomic benefits, must be better than that of conventional technology. Equally important is to provide companies operating a truck fleet with insights into the potential sustainability performance of this technology. In this case study, the sustainability performance of an automated truck has been quantified, assessed, and compared to a conventional truck based on several macro-level sustainability indicators under the current techno-economic circumstances. Environmentally Extended Input-Output modeling technique has been employed to estimate the potential life cycle sustainability impacts of the trucks.
The case study revealed that, when trucks were automated and electrified, the environmental sustainability of freight mobility has been improved almost on all the estimated indicators, except for the mineral resource scarcity. This was identified as a crucial remark to focus on with a hot-spot analysis. The results of the hot spot analysis demonstrated that the selected battery technology, e.g. battery capacity, has significant impacts on the sustainability performance of an automated and electrified truck.