Google, Audi and Ford have all been making headlines recently with driverless cars which have been gaining a lot
of interest and support from those who are interested and have tested them.
However, industrial machinery companies such as Caterpillar and Komatsu have also created their first fleet of experimental driverless trucks and they have been deployed in Western Australia.
So how do you feel about driverless trucks driving down your roads?
As you can imagine, research has suggested the majority of people are not happy or comfortable sharing the roads with these huge driverless trucks even when considering the benefits that this sort of technology could have. The
research firm Software Advice have said that due to dangers and high labour costs associated in operating a mine in difficult terrain, mining and industrial equipment companies have been looking at ways to increase on safety but also to decrease costs, and so drivers have been targeted to lower this cost.
More women than men surveyed, were more likely to think that driverless vehicles would be less safe than a vehicle operated by a person, in fact, over two thirds of those asked said they would feel less safe sharing the road with driverless trucks. Respondents still agreed that they would feel uncomfortable even if it meant cheaper consumer products or reduced carbon emissions.
Market research associate, Forrest Burnson, says that driverless vehicles could and probably will fundamentally alter a major aspect of every persons daily life.
“People tend to be afraid of new things, especially new technologies, until it becomes popular and familiar, as well as the thoughts that computers cannot perform tasks as well or even better than a human can. However, it has been proven in many cases that computers can often perform tasks more efficiently, better and cheaper than a person could.”
Research claims that the times when driverless vehicles have been tested in ‘real-life’ settings that the vehicles have proven to be just as safe, if not safer, than a vehicle with a human driver. And many people are not aware of just how advanced, complex and developed the technology already is. However, Burnson agrees that concerns about the technology are justifiable in terms of the ethical and legal issues involved with driverless vehicles, which will be addressed when the time comes.
Predictions say that within 20 to 30 years almost all of the consumer vehicles on our roads will include some form of driverless capability, which has already started with many cars already having capabilities such as assisted parking and lane assist. Autonomous heavy commercial vehicles such as driverless trucks could be on our roads even sooner than that.
Africa could be the next place to see the use of driverless trucks, with their great quantity of natural resources and its difficult terrain and climate it is possible that Africa will be the next place to see a deployment of these driverless trucks. Fully driverless dump trucks are already in use in Australia, proving to work, leading to more a chance of these vehicles reaching and being put to use in Africa before Europe and the USA. However, it is more unlikely that driverless consumer vehicles will reach Africa soon due to their poor infrastructure and poverty which will hold back on the adoption of this technology.