Industry Insider: Autonomous Vehicles and Brexit

Would you get on a pilotless plane? According to a recent press release the day when we will see driverless trucks out on the roads grows closer. Who would have thought we’d be talking about driverless LGVs? Are they really driverless, it’s a play on words in my opinion; it’s really an advancement on adaptive cruise control.

Over the past few years many companies have invested thousands of pounds in driver development via the use of telematics. If we take the headline literally driverless then their recent investments could be short lived.

Driving Autonomy
There appears to be five key points driving the concept forward including: costs, driver shortages, safety, congestion and technology. In the news release they state that by eventually removing the driver it would make a huge impact in operating cost and profit margins. Great I hear you say, we’ll all have some. It also states, their words not mine, “there is no indication this technology will replace existing drivers in the future, the technology is there to aid the driver”.

I’d like to know how this can be the case and how it will contribute to the driver shortage? It would appear that people seem unwilling to join our beloved industry as a driver for many reasons including poor image as a whole and also poor working conditions to name but two factors. It’s thought that by removing the stress from driving and by leaving the important decisions to a computer, working conditions should become much more attractive. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for technology, but I’m sure all you readers would have some of your own comments to make on this. Mine are not printable!

The general public’s perception of this technology is going to demand total reliability. It’s got a long way to go to be proven before vehicles are let loose on our motorways. We are already blamed for being the major contributor to congestion and holding up the motorist, so how daunting is it going to look for an inexperienced motorist who wishes to leave a motorway but can’t get across because there’s a platoon of driverless truck going past. In fact who are they going to complain and wave their fist at?

Embracing New Tech
As an industry we are innovative and a large percentage of us embrace new technology as we strive to make a difference and become more efficient and environmentally friendly. Yes the Government continues to invest in our road network, albeit a little slower than we’d like, but are our roads ready for this advancement in vehicle technology. I think I read that they are talking of trialing this on a quiet piece of the M6 – good luck with that I say! I believe the autopilot was invented back in 1912, therefore it’s been in use 100yrs or so – would you get on a pilotless plane?

Moving on to another key topic at the moment; Brexit. Please! Just give me all the facts, and THEN let ME decide! Brexit…….am I missing something? This is the biggest vote for the UK population in a lifetime and I just don’t have the full frank and most importantly IMPARTIAL facts to enable me to make a personal decision on what I really believe is the right thing to do! How do I decide “Yes”…or “No”? Where can I go to find out, and as importantly understand, all the real issues involved for both my business, and for my family?

The Media
The UK media is all about unimportant consumer drivel, and it’s really not helping any of us at all to move our country forward. Our media is not taking any responsibility for providing a real information platform to help anyone to make a fully informed and reasonable decision of how they really feel that the UK should move forward in this uniquely important year for business, the taxpayer, and all our families.

Our media is full of absolute nonsense and tittle tattle! Celebrity nonsense, boobs and beer, fill our pages and airwaves, when really we should be receiving educated impartial information to help us all to understand the position and the implications of a “yes” or a “no” vote. There is a great deal of bluff, bluster, and many private agendas. There are all sorts of biased interventions and high profile narratives.

So far though I have seen absolutely no clear tangible statement of the current situation and the forward implications of each potential future direction laid out anywhere to help anyone to make their own informed decision. What was the “crazy deal” that David Cameron negotiated at Brussels? Was it good? Was it bad? Could it have been better? Is it enough? I couldn’t tell you!

Let Me Decide
Why can I not rely on any of the flagship UK newspapers or UK mainstream TV Channels to simply spell it out, impartially, objectively, and clearly? What has ACTUALLY been negotiated? Then WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? – “A” or “B”? If “A” is decided, this is the consequence. If “B” is decided, this is the consequence. THEN…….let ME decide…. for myself!

Different people with different agendas will always have differing views dependent on their own position and priorities and the personal implications for their own situation. Indeed our government is spending £9 million of OUR money to persuade us all that to stay in Europe is the right thing to do. Our Government and the powers that be owe it to the population to provide a clear and objective statement of ALL the facts to enable us all to come to our own conclusions as to what we believe to be the way forward for the UK.

It’s just too important to be handled as flippantly as it is at the moment! It’s by far the most important decision for a generation and will have on-going implications for generations to come. For me it’s being handled in a really strange way.

I really do hope that the powers that be see this column and take some kind of positive action as a result because for me it’s not happening! The important impartial information is not coming through.

As I said this is probably the most important decision for the UK in our lifetime and I don’t know about you but I am feeling that I have been left very much in the dark – HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DECIDE?

This Industry Insider editorial originally appeared in Motion Magazine, the road transport technology title.