As the vehicles on our roads are becoming smarter and smarter through on-board computers, it almost seems as if there will soon be no role for human drivers at all. Driverless cars are already being designed and may soon be traveling on our UK roads. They are promoted as safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly but is there a place for driverless trucks? To be more specific – Is there a place for driverless trucks in the parcel delivery services industry?
Computerised Cars And The Future
Having bought a state-of-the-art car recently I can understand those mixed emotions of wonder (at the extraordinary technology), frustration at how we are almost becoming hostage to artificial intelligence and sadness at how our driving skills appear to be becoming redundant. How long will it be before the sat nav takes the car to the shops, the shop assistant loads your order into the car (you ordered online) and the car drives home safely? A technologically brilliant idea but in some ways a sad snapshot of the future.
But the world is preparing for it now. It is here – this is the future. So, it is a relief that residential car owners can turn off the sections of the computerised systems they do not want – so holding onto whatever control they need and enjoy a driving experience. In the same way, business and industry will soon be able to buy into the systems which will enhance their services. So will driverless trucks offer a better service for businesses and customers?
Parcel Delivery Services And Driverless Trucks
The idea of driverless vehicles on the roads has been the aim not only of the government and also global business for at least 5 years. There is a strong feeling that it will streamline supply chains and also cut costs on drivers.
COVID-19 of course has not helped with the rollout of new systems but the shortage of drivers has clearly made some supply chain managers sit up and take notice. In the UK there is going to need to be an adaption to basic rules and regulations in the Highway Code, but there are already companies on the continent who are trialling the concept. Interestingly, one of the companies at the front of the race, Einride, is primarily a software company. This tends to reflect the fact that our vehicles are becoming little more than mobile computers.
Companies Trialling AI Vehicles
Other companies such as Tesla and Scania have safety targets as their main aim – as may be expected. No truck is completely driverless as each needs the presence of a human – even if their function now has become almost secondary to artificial intelligence.
In fact, there are generally around 5 levels of driving automation which any new innovators adhere to. Between level 0 – 2 the driver has an overriding control but the machine is carrying out speed and safety functions. Through level 0 – 2, the driver is supervising what is happening and the AI may support you with when to brake, keeping central within lanes etc. Also, there is cruise control, automatic lights and windscreen wipers. At level 5 the car or truck has primary control. In the latter the “driver” may be sitting in the driver’s seat – but they are not driving – the vehicle is. At level 5, the AI makes all necessary driving decisions and functions without support from the “driver”. The human driver is present however to ensure mechanical functioning and overall safety is in place.
Parcel Delivery Services For The Future?
There is no doubt scientific advances have been made and private businesses are undertaking trials for when driverless trucks are allowed on our roads. It would seem they would compliment parcel delivery services and supply chains because they may cut driver costs and streamline logistics. There is some way to go – watch this space.