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Autonomous vehicles- The future of UK transportation?

The role of transport managers around the UK could be soon set to change with the increasing adoption of autonomous fleet vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles aren’t a new concept - one of the earliest mainstream examples was Google’s self-driving car project in 2009. However, autonomous technology has advanced, making it likely that AV’s could soon be operating on the UK’s roads.

To be classified as fully autonomous, a vehicle must meet a criteria consisting of three parts;

  • The vehicle must be able to perceive and see what’s happening on the road.

  • It must be able to predict and work out what will happen next.

  • Finally, the vehicle must be able to drive and take the appropriate action.

Autonomous vehicles are able to meet these requirements using a combination of sensors which include; cameras, radar and LIDAR technologies. Autonomy has been gradually introduced to various models allowing newer models to include features like cruise control, lane keeping or even complete self-driving - as seen in the latest version of the Audi A8.

In 2018, the UK government will begin testing HGV ‘platooning’ - the process of automated lorries following each other on main roads using a mixture of sensors and wifi connectivity. It is hoped that the process of platooning will help to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions as drivers won’t need to abruptly apply their breaks.

Whilst automated, self-driving vehicles will offer a range of benefits to those working in the UK transport and logistics industries, they will also hold a new set of challenges for transport managers.