Are Driverless Trucks Going to Harm Britain's Roads?
Automation has grown more and more prevalent across industries in the UK. With robots and technology being brought into factories to create cars and other products, supermarkets to cash up our shopping and even allowing us to order takeaway food easier, there are not many areas of industry that have been left untouched by automation.
The next field that looks like it may become automated or semi-automated is that of heavy haulage Newcastle. Following trials in America and Europe, there has been a lot of talk about bringing automated haulage and storage Gateshead trucks to the roads of the United Kingdom. These courier Newcastle wagons will travel in 'platoons' of three, with a lead vehicle being driven by a person, and the two haulage Newcastle vehicles behind being remotely controlled by the front truck. Whenever the lead truck brakes, so will the other two, and whenever it accelerates, the other two will as well. They will effectively mimic the movements and speed changes of the front lorry in order to keep in a tightly packed, moving convoy.
This automation process is being considered due to the supposed improvement of fuel economy and reduction in emissions that the platoon can offer. This is down to the lead truck pushing air out of the way, lowering aerodynamic drag on the two wagons behind and allowing more efficient movement. However, this may be a small benefit compared to the potential hazards of this initiative.
Road insurance company, AA, have raised concerns about the safety of these platoons of courier Newcastle vehicles being on the road. Britain has some of the busiest motorways in Europe, with a lot of junctions and slip-roads coming off and onto them, as opposed to the long, straight highways of America and Europe. On these routes, the platoons can travel easily with little to no issues as they are such long stretches of road, but this is just not efficient for the roads of the United Kingdom. There are concerns that these large storage Gateshead vehicles will block other road-users from being able to see road signs, move into laybys or exit motorways via slip-roads thanks to the length of the three combined trucks. The insurance company estimated that the trucks will be the equivalent of half a football pitch long, which will take up a lot of space on the motorway.
There is also a lot of concern for job safety for existing haulage Newcastle drivers, as automated trucks would jeopardise their careers and livelihood. If one person can drive a platoon of three trucks, then that would potentially mean that two thirds of wagon drivers could be out of a job, with a lack of industries that could utilise their transferable skills. Whilst there would likely be courier Newcastle companies that could give them jobs, with such a vast exodus of drivers from the haulage industry, it would be very tough for all of them to be re-employed in similar career paths.
Another concern that has been brought up is that of safety. Things could easily go wrong with these remote-controlled wagons, such as a loss of signal, control issues, or something more nefarious such as being hacked by someone. These are all issues that need to be weighed up and tested by companies that are wishing to bring this automation of haulage or storage Gateshead and courier wagons to the UK, but currently it looks like the negatives outweigh the benefits that these platoons could offer.