Autonomous vehicles – a new era or just another Back to The Future prop?

With the rapid development in self-driving vehicles led by tech companies such as Amazon and Apple, and the tragic accident in Arizona recently causing concerns around the world, Maria Adeseun, Doctoral Student in Logistics and Supply Chain at the University of Derby, weighs up the pros and cons of this technology.

Unless you’ve been living underground for the last six months, you’ll be aware of the advances made in self-driving and directing vehicles – even non-petrol heads seem to have an opinion about whether this technology is a good thing or not.

Countries such as Australia are already cautiously trialling self-driving cars, taking the first step in the process of slowly pushing human-driven cars into extinction. In places like West Africa, partly due to recession, the idea may come as a relief as transportation prices could be slashed.

How could these vehicles help us?

The stream of self-driving cars produced in the last couple of years have been programmed to distribute small amounts of goods and the interference of humans has not been required. Most trials have gone smoothly, increasing the confidence of their customers.

The new development of self-driving vehicles will help the logistics industry level up to the standard of their customers’ expectation and provide effective, visibly measurable service delivery at every stage of the supply chain, removing inaccuracy at the industrial, warehousing and distribution phase.

Do the pros outweigh the cons?

This new technology definitely has many benefits:

  • It improves the safety of those on board by reducing the opportunity for human error
  • It is very efficient as it allows trucks to make long journeys without driver fatigue
  • It would reduce fuel consumption and exhaust fumes, benefiting the economy and environment of every country to embrace this innovation

However, there are disadvantages.

Based on research and past history, it seems that autonomous vehicles may not be so perfect after all. There have been reports from different parts of the world recently about how these vehicles have been involved in accidents. It’s worth remembering, however, that these accidents may have been due to data not being correctly imputed, vehicle engine faults, or the high probability of a live driver not taking control of the car when the need arose.

So, if the cons of producing these vehicles can be this bad, is it worth all the trouble?

What’s in it for the future?

Well, there may be a bigger positive picture compared to the negative!

This new invention will definitely make driving jobs stress-free and faster, helping the driver last longer at work as vehicles can be put on autopilot.

These kinds of vehicles already exist in places like airports, waterfronts and courtyards.

In aircraft technology, planes are switched to auto-pilot when it becomes safe to do so. They cannot take off or land in auto-pilot mode because they need the data of the destination imputed into their systems and require human expertise to manage take-off, turbulence during the journey and during landing.

It is time to talk about logistics

Self-driving cars could affect the logistics of our society in so many ways. Some of the most principal ways are:

  • Warehousing Procedures: This is executed through machineries such as self-directed stocking, vehicle pallet power houses in addition to abetted instruction preference.
  • Track Tow Conveyance: This is executed through abetted road trucking beside a convoy with a driver in one vehicle in front to over-see the convoy.
  • Last-mile Supply: This is the least probable fragment of the full trip and the most idealistic application of autonomous vehicles. Improvements in self-driving cars aim at renovating and advancing last-mile distribution through know-hows such as package location stocking, public wagons in addition to autonomous packages.

Globalisation and associations

Self-driving cars will enhance globalisation and association among nations, bringing about cost-effectiveness as the new vehicles will likely double the output of the transportation network. The global annual industry revenues for connected cars is expected to increase from approximately US$33 (€30) billion in 2014 to approximately US$187-198 (€170-180) billion in 2020.

The idea of autonomous cars has been embraced at regional and local levels. In September 2015, the Transport Ministers of the G7 States and the European Commissioner for Transport made a communal affirmation to synchronise their efforts to support their implementation and development.

Recently, the European Commission made a move on having communication on connected European cars. This completes the EU emergency calls (eCall) system that will effectively become mandatory in 2018 and requires vehicles to communicate.

They will also drive outstanding consumer experience as groups of vehicles would be able to operate as a single entity on the road through the use of sensors and general communication between each other. The functional ability of the vehicles is key because as it is, lead drivers can control the acceleration and braking of cars connected to the main car through sensoring.

The future

The world is fast becoming automated, as proved by the emergence of self-driving cars.

I predict, globally, that within the next few years, human positions will be swapped with automated machines, requiring less human presence at work and greater business management.

Don’t just sit there and stare at me. Now is the time for you to embrace this new-found future technology, for the world is transforming. In fact, the world will soon fully embrace these technologies without any concerns.

The autonomous car…it’s the future!

For further press information please contact the Corporate Communications Team on 01332 591891, pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or @derbyunipress

Join the conversation

You might also like