NEA’s Vision for the Future of Trucking and A.I.
New Enterprise Associates is a venture capital firm located in Silicon Valley. When the organization began putting money into the freight transportation industry, it was originally seen as a stark contrast from their usual investments.
However, the NEA has been a leader in the Series C financing round for Transfix. The New York-based carrier is one of the most well-known in the trucking industry, and the recent investment continues the growing trend of Silicon Valley moving into industries in line for technological innovations.
Trucking has remained largely “old school” despite upgrades to equipment and licensing practices. The equipment and infrastructure used in trucking has remained very similar over the past several decades, leading investors to consider whether the time is right for an upgrade.
Automation software and machine learning have been an asset in the trucking industry for quite some time, as carriers utilize these to connect a decentralized marketplace and promote a smoother business environment.
By connecting drivers and shippers in a constantly refined and updated online marketplace, carriers like Transfix have been able to maintain a strong presence in trucking.
Technologies like self-driving kits and artificial intelligence have shown promise in tests, with regulatory groups already working to establish safety mandates for the trucks once they hit the road.
As the prospect of driverless trucks becomes closer to being a regular sight on the roads, some specialists in A.I. and autonomous technology think that driverless trucks will be on the road faster than driverless passenger cars.
With a symposium on automation and driverless technology in trucking promising these vehicles will be seen on highways in as little as three years, NEA is working to put their investments in the right spots for the coming shift in technology. Analysts predict that anything that moves will become autonomous at some point.
Capital will need to be in place for hardware and software upgrades, new training, infrastructure overhauls, regulatory compliance, and a host of other challenges presented by a switch to new technology. While trucking’s firm spot as a cornerstone of the American economy has been intertwined with its old-school nature, the vital industry may press on with new technology to keep it competitive.