Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

There is so much going on in the trucking industry from a technology standpoint — robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, autonomous vehicles — that it is nearly impossible to keep up with the developments. And it is also difficult to figure out when these advances will see widespread adoption by the industry.

Technology is a tricky thing. If you jump on the bandwagon too early, you may end up overpaying for the technology or being the guinea pig for an unproven technology that is not reliable. But if you wait too long, you could lose any competitive advantage these new technologies have to offer.

Source One, a Corcentric company, did some digging into these key technology developments and shared their insights with me on when these trends will crest.

1. Robotic process automation

This can help eliminate repetitive manual processes that tend to consume employees’ time and will free up employees to focus on more complex tasks that add value to the organization. Best guess is that the next five years will be critical for adopting robotic process automation in order to change the way business processes are performed every day.

2. Artificial Intelligence decision-making

AI algorithms will improve big data analytics and will allow for faster decision-making when compared to a human. We are already seeing adoption of this technology. Goldman Sachs told The Economist that logistics costs could fall 5% during the next 10 years as a result of AI decision-making.

3. Blockchain

Using blockchain ledgers ensures that all data is verified by all the parties in a transaction. This means data is consistent across the supply chain, transparent and tamper-proof. Pilot programs have already been launched, and blockchain will continue to see more widespread adoption over the next two to five years.

4. Autonomous vehicles

Fully autonomous trucks are still a long way off, but we are already seeing widespread adoption of the technologies that autonomous trucks will be built on, including things like collision mitigation and lane departure warning systems. Don’t expect big breakthroughs until 2030. The transformation to autonomous vehicles will not happen overnight as there are societal and legislative/regulatory issues to be worked out.

These transformational trends are continuing to evolve. Fleets need to continue to keep up-to-date on developments in these areas so they will be able to determine when the time is right to embrace new technologies in order to maximize their impact on fleet operations.