Driverless trucks to deliver more success to logistics
Swedish start-up Einride's driverless electric truck is seen in Jonkoping, Sweden.
The UAE, which ranks ninth in KPMG's 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, is getting its roads and regulations ready for the use of driverless trucks to further boost the efficiency of the country's logistics industry, experts believe.
A driverless electric lorry started deliveries on Swedish public roads in May in what its creators claimed to be the world's first initiative of its kind in the sector.
"Driverless technology is set to transform transportation, logistics and transit infrastructure globally. The UAE government, which leads the Arab World in innovation and wants one-fourth of its transportation to be autonomous by 2030, is exploring ways to benefit the most from the latest technological development," said Shailesh Dash, chairman of Gulf Pinnacle Logistics.
The latest report by management consultancy Strategy& suggests that over one million trucks operate across the region increasing by 5-9 per cent each year.
"The use of driverless electric trucks in the logistics industry could be the best trial ground for these automated vehicles. After all, shipping companies adopt the technology faster than their counterparts in other sectors of the economy as moving cargo in non-public areas like storage facilities and warehouses gives a chance to test these autonomous vehicles in a less risky environment," he added.
"Since driverless electric trucks do not require fuel and manpower, they are estimated to reduce current delivery costs by up to 80 per cent. These smart vehicles will also help in curtailing pollution, road accidents and traffic congestion," he said.
Rodney Viegas, CEO of Abdul Muhsen Shipping and So Safe Logistics, said an aggressive strategy is required to introduce driverless trucks in the UAE.
"A proactive approach of all the stakeholders will speed up the process of creating an appropriate environment for the introduction of driverless trucks in the UAE and further strengthen the country's logistics industry, which is the third-best globally and first in the region," said Viegas while referring to the recently released 2019 Agility Emerging Market Index.
Allaying fears that the smart trucks will affect the jobs for truck drivers in the logistics industry, Dash said that human drivers will still be required to manage these vehicles. "There is no threat to their employment at least for the next decade as the technology assists with navigating through roads faster and safer. After all, human intervention is always required," he stressed.
"On the contrary, the use of driverless trucks, run on artificial intelligence, has the potential to create high-end technology jobs in the logistics industry as the demand for software developers, data analysts and programmers will increase in the sector," Dash added.
Electric vehicle manufacturers and logistics industry players should join hands with the government in framing policies and creating road infrastructure to accommodate and support autonomous automobiles, including driverless trucks.