Date:7 May 2015
It’s wrong to talk about driverless trucks when referring to autonomous-drive heavy haulers, says Daimler, which this week launched the first street-legal vehicle of this type. Drivers remain the boss in their vehicle, the company says.
But it’s certainly fair to say that life will never be the same again for drivers.
What autonomous driving will do is relieve drivers of the drudgery and monotony of tiring and often monotonous long-distance routes. At the same time, drivers gain time for other tasks and for communicating with their environment. It is conceivable, Daimler says, that drivers will take over tasks that today are the domain of the dispatcher or that benefit social contact. Owner-operators in particular can get their office work done conveniently while on the road
Being freed to take on other tasks will significantly change the job of being a trucker – perhaps even opening up career opportunities for drivers to become transport managers. Autonomous driving will fuse truck and driver into a team more than ever, says Daimler, creating a meaningful, effective and highly economical combination of man and machine.
What’s so great about autonomous drive?
Better fuel efficiency, lower emissions. A Frost & Sullivan study found that an autonomously driving heavy-duty truck can achieve a savings potential of up to 7 % on average. Fuel consumption in regional transport would be reduced by 4 %. The study also reached the conclusion that autonomously driving trucks would lower maintenance costs for transport companies as a result of less wear on the vehicle components due to a more constant flow of traffic.
Improved safety. Because autonomous vehicles will be connected to their environment and other road users to such an extent that they will avoid areas with heavy traffic, they will also be able to contribute to reducing traffic jams on highways. It will be like having a super-anticipatory driver on board.