Rubber on the Road

We are one step closer to having automated lorries on the road in the UK with the announcement that wireless ‘platooning’ will take place from next year. The system of three lorries in convoy (with only the lead lorry having a driver) has been used in the US, but critics cite safety concerns on the UK’s congested motorways. Driverless cars achieve the limelight, but driverless lorries are surely the more immediate and tangible prize. A 2014 report by DHL sets out a vision for driverless lorries, which would reduce freight cost by 40% per mile. Automation will also improve accuracy, efficiency and safety in the warehouse, which should in turn reduce the circulation space requirement, whereas automated handovers between different vehicles will speed up truck turn-around times in yards. Meanwhile, last mile solutions can be radically changed through self-driving ‘packstations’ (delivery centres), support vehicles that follow delivery drivers, and even self-driving parcels…