Until the UK’s roads have a serious update we may never see autonomous HGVs make it to UK, considering roads all across UK just aren’t up to scratch according to reports from the RHA.
A Lord published a report which the RHA responded to. The report implied HGV platooning could be “an early example of CAV (connected and autonomous vehicles) close to deployment.”
The report was given by SMMT Chief Exec: Mike Hawes, who stated: “HGVs may be one of the first that will take the advantage of CAV technologies because, if you are an operator, you have an interest in pence per mile rates and you can benefit in fuel economy platooning”
However, Charlie Henderson, who is a partner at technology consultants PA Consulting Groups told reports the challenges for plans with these vehicles to go ahead: “You still have a driver sitting in the vehicle, so you’ll still paying for the driver along with the autonomous vehicle. Do you pay them less because they’re not driving?”
The RHA said the idea is being treated with “A healthy dose of caution.” Marketing director of the RHA Rod McKenzie said: “Our motorways are peppered with exit and entry points. Platoons will cause queues for vehicles trying to join and leave the motorway, which would only create even more congestion.”
Before autonomous vehicle can hit UK roads on a nationwide scale a serious change is needed for UK roads, preparing for the transition from manual cars to autonomous. While manual driver are used to the conditions of UK roads introducing an autonomous vehicle that may have only been tested on a well layered, even road could prove to be extremely hazardous for other drivers. It could also lead to damaged goods or serious accidents. Before the Government invests further into autonomous vehicles the state of UK roads and management of construction is a much more serious issue that is holding the industry back on a nationwide scale and needs more investment, once repairs are managed and completed the UK will be ready to invest further into autonomous vehicles.
There is concern that autonomous vehicles will only damage the industry’s employment rate. If pay decreases for the average driver less will want to be involved in haulage which would only lead to a higher demand for drivers, all of whom will receive less pay as they aren’t directly driving the vehicle for a fair amount of the journey. With the amount of training required to become a driver employees will have to decide whether the training is still worth investing in.
Either way, it’ll be a few years down the line before autonomous vehicles are even ready to hit the market. What we are unsure of is what it could mean for the future of the haulage industry as we know it.