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Driverless Trucks

When will the shift happen and what does it mean for truckers

One of the key talking points of 2016 has been the new technologies aimed at making trucking greener and safer.

The introduction of ‘driverless’ trucks will see some minor changes in the look of the truck with a sleek extended tractor front and an array of LED lights  that will replace traditional headlights. Major changes have been made to the communications technology of the truck which will include a Highway Pilot navigation system enabled by a collection of cameras and radar sensors, whilst continually transmitting its position to other drivers and traffic control centres. The technology allows a convoy of lorries to travel within just a few feet from each other and will even allow you to programme the engine so it can’t speed over 65 miles an hour.

For now the driver maintains the overall control of decision making, importantly including the emergency measures needed to bring the vehicle to a gradual halt if the computer fails to respond to the system commands.

When will driverless trucks arrive in the UK?

The transition of trucks to driverless trucks will not happen overnight, we will not find that suddenly those 3.5 million truckers will no longer roam land.

The Times reported trials would take place on the M6 in Cumbria later in 2016, with vehicles in convoy headed by a driver in the leading lorry. The tests would take place on a quiet stretch of the motorway. The paper said the plans could result in platoons of up to 10 computer-controlled trucks being driven metres apart from each other.

We are wondering if this vision of automated trucking will inevitably take the enjoyment and excitement out of a truck driver’s journey or if the safety aspects will make it a pleasurable experience.

Where will the road to transition lead truck drivers?

The more evident question here is what will happen to all the truck drivers once they are replaced by a machine that can do their job for them?

Economics say that human desires and wants are infinite. So, we invent a machine that supplies some of those wants. Say, the tractor to replace the many men and many mules. What happens to those many men? Well, human desires and wants are infinite. Thus they can go off and do something, anything, which satisfies some other human desire and or want.

Of course the next generation of people aren’t going to train as truckers, they’ll go off and train as something else, but what does all this mean for the drivers of today?

Keep an eye on the Old Pond blog for more news on driverless trucks.

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