As the Logistics Industry continues to catapult into the world of modern technology, many more processes are becoming automated, warehouse practices and procedures are becoming more efficient, humans are working alongside robots, and most recently robots are replacing human roles in the workplace, via robotic process automation, and driver-less vehicles.
With the notion of autonomous lorries being present, and the news that they will be hitting UK roads in the very near future of 2019, understandably there are concerns being raised as to whether they truly are the buoyant life-saver that the logistics industry perceives to have been thrown.
Many with a supportive view believe that autonomous trucks are literally driving the Logistics Industry into the future and beyond. There are numerous positive outcomes from Autonomous trucks: requirement for paid human labour becomes resigned, routes become more economic in terms of fuel and finance, and driving becomes almost relinquished of all human error. In support of this, Swedish transport company Scania believes autonomous lorries could use far less fuel as they will drive much closer together, whilst controlled by wirelessly communicating onboard computers.
In addition to being a sustainable solution to the shortage of haulage drivers, machines are also trumping humans, in terms of not needing to be salaried, or diligently checked; and as regulations become stricter over time, driverless vehicles will save many companies time, and reputation, due to robots not being susceptible to drowsiness, or substance abuse, almost eradicating drivers’ errors.
Yet although there are those who actively appease autonomous trucks, and argue that they are the way forwards, ultimately, these trucks are not driving themselves; and there are opposing views, which do not seem to think that us humans are yet ready to take our hands off the wheel and our eyes off the road.
Whilst the news of autonomous lorries, on the surface seems to be beneficial to not only the drivers, but also to the Logistics Industry as a whole, there are certainly opposing views, for good reason. Less than a year ago, Tesla were testing their own autonomous vehicles which resulted in not just a casualty, but a death.
Whilst this does not mean that all autonomous vehicles should be tarnished with the same brush, it does need to be recognised that a tired and intoxicated lorry driver, and an unresponsive autonomous vehicle can still cause fatalities; of which both are equally responsible for failing to recognise and prevent a potential collision, and any ensuing collateral damage.
Prejudiced views aside, it is predicted that autonomous trucks will reduce the amount of human labour, and therefore eliminate the risk of human error; additionally, self-driving trucks are also predicted to use less fuel, and reduce congestion, and overall prove to be more efficient than our current lorries.
Whilst autonomous vehicles eliminate the ‘baggage’ of human drivers, responsibility is no less diminished; at present driver-less vehicles still remain a relatively new concept, for which we do not yet hold all the answers, of which their determined success will be something only time can tell. One thing for certain is that if computers are to rule road, their communications need to be fast and reliable to prevent collisions.
With plans rolling out in 2019, in Holland, Germany and the UK, the reality of self-driving trucks will be amongst us sooner than we realise.