The Driverless Truck? It’s a TRAIN!

driveless truckThere has been a lot of hype and excitement surrounding the new phenomenon that is the “driverless truck” and the endless possibilities it presents to the future of the Logistics industry.

The idea of the “driverless truck” must be hugely appealing to transport companies already facing significant pay increases for their drivers, over exposure to endless legislation regarding their drivers working terms and conditions, and a dearth of fresh talent entering the profession. This vehicle would immediately kill a flock birds with the proverbial single stone.

However, it raises serious issues far beyond these instant benefits – three immediately spring to mind:

  • Safety
  • Security
  • The Environment

Safety

Considering that airplanes now have the capability of flying themselves, the safety issue is still so great that the airlines are still legally obligated to have two pilots in the cockpit.

Would you fly your family in a plane that had no pilots

Me neither.

So what if there is a malfunction in any one of these driverless trucks trundling along the highways and byways? The catastrophic consequences of such an event doesn’t bear thinking about.

Yet, if this is to become a reality, we must.

So, in such an event, who would be legally liable?

  • The computer programmer or designer?
  • The company selling the technology?
  • The company using the technology?

It must also be borne in mind that Truck Drivers do far more than just drive trucks.

How could a driverless truck monitor the safety of the vehicle or its cargo should anything happen en route?

A Truck Driver is a real-time person who can react and deal with real-time situations and real-time circumstances – how would the driverless truck handle a blow out for example?

Security

Then we consider the security of the cargo, particularly those high value loads. The vehicle still needs to refuel and this would be but just one time when the load would be exposed to an increased risk of theft.

It could be argued that high value loads on a driverless truck are actually MORE at risk than normal. Driverless trucks could be easily hijacked – a contrived blow out for example – and the trailer is on the back of another vehicle within 5 minutes of the truck coming to a halt.

Even more enticing for the criminal, this would be a victimless crime.

The Environment

The Road Transport industry already faces worldwide criticism regarding its carbon footprint and a driverless truck does nothing to eradicate, address, eliminate, nor otherwise reduce this concern.

There is no suggestion of reduced emissions from these vehicles and why take the risk on one truck to deliver one load at a time when the train already exists and can carry in excess of a hundred loads at any one time.

With its own driver on hand to ensure that it is all done safely.

Are there any benefits to the driverless truck?

Certainly there are, but they are very limited, and certainly not on the public highways and byways.

The oil sands are the perfect example of where the driverless truck could be best utilized. It would be employed exclusively on private property and away from the general public where any malfunctions or issues could be addressed almost immediately.

The driverless truck only offers the opportunity to deliver a single – or maybe double – trailer’s worth of goods at any one time. I, for one, would be far more comfortable entrusting this responsibility to a professional Truck Driver than a computer driven machine.

The risk just isn’t worth the very limited rewards…

Please view my Presentation for further information, thank you: