There is a growing concern in the industry that eventually technology will make the average driver unrequired, meaning some firms could just decide to cut their employees short and introduce the new technology to their firms. This could damage the relationship between the haulage industry and many major businesses, but why should transport managers stick with drivers rather than the new technology? Here’s just a few of the reasons a trucker overcomes the self-driving truck
#1 Having a colleague to consult – sometimes there’s nothing worse than leaving your decision making to a machine, which will only give a basic response (if at all). While a lorry driver can give advice, support and just be honest about his thoughts in regards to a job/the company or anything else that could need to be discussed.
#2 Common sense – No matter how many updates or tweaks you give to AI, it’ll never have one thing a driver (usually) has: common sense. The logic to know “I shouldn’t go that way because it’s a small road” or “this way is faster, despite what the sat-nav says” while the self-driving vehicle will only follow the route it has been told to with no consideration for other faster options.
#3 Determination as a driver – Lorry drivers are naturally more determined to complete a job, because it puts bread on the table and they know that working hard can always be rewarded. It’s unlikely a self-driving vehicle will be more motivated in the workplace because it doesn’t feel the need to improve work efforts or do something that could be rewarded. It just does as commanded.
#4 Drivers don’t break or need updates - With this new technology it is inevitable that there will be errors, whether it’s glitches in the system or it crashes like your average Windows PC, as always the case with technology there will be faults on the road to developing and improving the technology over time.
#5 Driving skills – Entering a destination can be simple with the future technology, merely a press of a few buttons, but you can guarantee a driver will find a faster route than the technology. Whether that means executing a smooth but safe U-turn on the roads, compared to a self-driving vehicle that will follow the road until the next safest roundabout (which could be miles) and return the way it came, which will cost much more fuel it destination changes happen on a regular basis.
#6 Drivers have more sympathy for transport operators – Some drivers are supportive of their operators if they are treated respectfully. They’re willing to go the extra mile and do what they can to make the operator’s day easier. While a driverless vehicle has no limit, will that boost morale for operators as much as a supportive driver?
#7 Moving loads off of the vehicle – Whether agreed in contract or out of good will, drivers will help firms moving loads off of vehicles which speeds up the delivery process and allows them to get back on the road as soon as possible. The driverless vehicle won’t be able to unload itself (at least, not yet) which could mean deliveries will take even longer if less staff are on hand to process a delivery.
#8 Theft is less likely with someone protecting the vehicle – While robbers won’t hesitate to break into a truck that is self-driven (if the technology advances to the point that a driver wouldn’t be required at all), knowing a driver is there to protect the vehicle’s goods can be intimidating and ultimately lead to a crime not being committed. The lorry driver is a hero without even knowing it.
#9 Trust – Trust is an essential part of the trade industry, but it’s not completely necessary for a vehicle that drives itself. You don’t develop a relationship with it or communicate on a human level on a daily basis. While talking to a driver, you negotiate, organise, compliment as well as have a general chit-chat. Over time you develop trust with drivers, knowing you can rely on them to complete a particular job.
#10 The driver’s charm – No matter what features this new technology could have, even voice recognition and responses from your favourite celebrities sat-nav style… will it really be better than having a HGV driver? An irresistible charm is found within the average HGV driver, a sense of charisma, as well as a positive attitude on “getting the job done right.” Not something you find on your average artificial intelligence, is it?
Times can change, surely, but the industry must never forget its… routes. Whatever technology brings forward, it would’ve never been possible without the drivers who will embrace their future in the industry. Whether this means they still oversee operations from within the vehicle once self-driving lorries hit the road, become qualified technicians or keep going as they are for the foreseeable future. Without them the industry would be lost.
Do you think you could outsmart a self-driving truck? Let us know in the comments