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Shipment sizing for autonomous trucks of road freight

Chun-Miin (Jimmy) Chen (Freeman College of Management, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
Yajun Lu (Freeman College of Management, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 12 November 2020

Issue publication date: 29 April 2021




Unprecedented endeavors have been made to take autonomous trucks to the open road. This study aims to provide relevant information on autonomous truck technology and to help logistics managers gain insight into assessing optimal shipment sizes for autonomous trucks.


Empirical data of estimated autonomous truck costs are collected to help revise classic, conceptual models of assessing optimal shipment sizes. Numerical experiments are conducted to illustrate the optimal shipment size when varying the autonomous truck technology cost and transportation lead time reduction.


Autonomous truck technology can cost as much as 70% of the price of a truck. Logistics managers using classic models that disregard the additional cost could underestimate the optimal shipment size for autonomous trucks. This study also predicts the possibility of inventory centralization in the supply chain network.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on information collected from trade articles and academic journals in the domain of logistics management. Other technical or engineering discussions on autonomous trucks are not included in the literature review.

Practical implications

Logistics managers must consider the latest cost information when deciding on shipment sizes of road freight for autonomous trucks. When the economies of scale in autonomous technology prevail, the classic economic order quantity solution might again suffice as a good approximation for optimal shipment size.


This study shows that some models in the literature might no longer be applicable after the introduction of autonomous trucks. We also develop a new cost expression that is a function of the lead time reduction by adopting autonomous trucks.



This paper forms part of a special section “Decision Making in Logistics Management in the Era of Disruptive Technologies”, guest edited by Vijay Pereira, Gopalakrishnan Narayanamurthy, Alessio Ishizaka and Noura Yassine.


Chen, C.-M.(J). and Lu, Y. (2021), "Shipment sizing for autonomous trucks of road freight", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 413-433.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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