Have you ever driven on long monotonous roads, using nothing other than cruise control to take the boredom out of driving? Have you been frustrated with other drivers’ crazy antics on the road? And does driving next to others whilst they are speaking on the phone without hands free cause a shiver to go up your spine? Well you may be interested in what currently exists around autonomous (driverless) driving technology and how in the future, driverless technology may help to reduce accidents, increase fuel efficiency and make our roads safer for all users.
Autonomous Vehicles (AV’s) are already being used in controlled environments such as mines at Rio Tinto and passenger and freight trains, forklifts, container unloaders and other vehicles. A report by McKinsey & Company details the expected take-up over the coming decades in AV’s. According to McKinsey & Company, as technology advances and people become more familiar with AV’s, the take-up by 2050 is expected to be substantial and AV’s may be more common than the regular vehicles we see today.
Accenture, Alliance and other industry narrators such as the ABC are reporting on the growth in opportunities and technology associated with AV’s. Your home delivery parcels will in some cases be picked and despatched from warehouses using robots, so is it a matter of embracing or being suspicious of self driving vehicles? Perhaps the long development time to ensure the technology is safe and efficient will give us time to adjust to the concept as well as the advantages of vehicles of the future. Google and Mercedes Benz are just a couple of examples of companies using long lead times to trial and advance the technology, so that it is safe before it becomes mainstream. If one is used to being on the roads along with impatient, distracted, alcohol and drug affected human drivers, perhaps it is not such a great leap of faith to get used to robotic or autonomous vehicles?
For the transport industry, will driverless trucks reduce fatigue related incidents on our roads? Will robotic forklifts be more efficient and reduce lead times and injuries? Will automated ports and robotic ships using virtual bridges add value to the logistics sector whilst reducing costs, injuries and lead times? Well, they already are. For those who work in these sectors, it is a matter of evolving and adapting to the new technologies to keep oneself employed and employable. Whilst the current ageing drivers and operators may not be affected in the short term, future transport and logistics employees will be vastly different to those performing manual tasks in 2015.