The Estimated Annual Cost to Operate a Port in a Major Urban Area with Level 4 Automated Trucks in Queue Ranges from $75.1million to $123.4 million.

A Feasibility Analysis Examined Experimental Port Efficiency Improvement Strategies for Multiple Port Location Types to Quantify the Benefits and Costs.

Made Public Date

As freight imports to the US continue to increase, several US agencies are seeking ways to improve the efficiency of drayage trucking at ports by evaluating the impacts of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), including automation and increased connectivity. The objective of this study was to determine the state of the practice regarding truck staging, including access, queuing, and parking at maritime ports, and to perform an economic feasibility study of automated truck queuing as a technology solution. The study was intended to establish the foundation for the long-term development and demonstration of port truck staging concepts. Four candidate solutions were identified to address truck congestion and queuing issues at port terminals. These were (i) off-site parking and staging, (ii) off-site parking and staging combined with a “virtual gate” where some terminal transaction processes could be done off-site, (iii) automated truck (SAE Level 4, High Driving Automation) in queue, and (iv) automated truck in queue combined with off-site load staging. These solutions were assessed under five representative port operations. The benefit-to-cost ratio for each solution and scenario were estimated and quantified in 2017 dollars.

Using 2017 dollars, the study estimated $35,000 per truck to automate it with an annual maintenance cost of $1,750 per truck. The total capital cost of the truck was amortized over 5 years at both three percent and seven percent as lower and upper bounds. The table below excerpted from the source report demonstrates the cost breakdown for SAE level 4 trucks for five representative port operations. 

Table. Cost Breakdown for Level 4 Trucks for Five Representative Port Operations


Major Urban


Major Urban


Minor Urban


Inland Port
Container Lifts Per Year 365,000 10M 15M 7M 200,000
Number of Trucks 292 8,000 12,000 5,600 160
Annual maintenance cost $511k $14.0M $21.0M $9.8M $280k
Total Yearly Cost (3 percent amortization) $2.7M $75.1M $112.7M $52.6M  $1.5M
Total Yearly Cost (7 percent amortization) $3.0M $82.3M $123.4M  $57.6M $1.6M
System Cost

See Summary

System Cost Subsystem