Autonomous vehicles and technologies are beginning to redefine the supply chain.
These vehicles, equipped with sophisticated sensors and AI, have the potential to navigate roads with minimal human intervention, which may trigger a monumental shift in how goods are transported, and businesses run.
Whilst autonomous self-driving trucks in logistics and transportation sectors are primarily still in testing and pilot phases, companies like Waymo, Tesla, and TuSimple are actively testing self-driving trucks for long-haul routes. However, they are operating with real drivers to intervene, if necessary, and monitor the vehicle’s operation.
Self-driving lorries will likely bring several benefits to the logistics industry.
Autonomous lorries could operate 24/7, negating the need for human rest. Programming would allow operation at potentially faster speeds, and enabling driving modes that enhance fuel efficiency too.
The general traffic flow on roads may see improvement; lorries could have the ability to communicate and coordinate movements. All processed by real-time AI, this may reduce every day traffic congestion.
The adoption of self-driving lorries in Europe faces several barriers: regulatory, societal, and infrastructural challenges.
Creating a unified regulatory framework that allows self-driving lorries to operate seamlessly across different European countries is a significant challenge.
Autonomous lorry systems also need to ensure they’re secure from hacking and other cybersecurity threats.
UK and European roads do not yet have adequate facilities for the charging. EV trucks will require huge batteries which take time to charge and add lots of extra weight.
There must also be consideration given to the impact of autonomous lorries on drivers’ jobs and the broader logistics workforce.
Technological advancements are ongoing, and we have seen significant progress, so full autonomy (Level 5) is still in the future.
While autonomous trucks offer transformative potential in logistics, replacing human drivers entirely is not going to be any time soon.
A more plausible scenario involves a collaborative model where AI and humans work together. Human drivers are incredibly versatile and adaptable, with the ability to manage unforeseen situations on the road. Autonomy must match or exceed this adaptability.
We’d love to hear your opinion on this, and would also love to hear from you if there’s a logistics or haulage requirement we can help you with. Please get in touch via our contact form or give us a call on 01394 675635.