“More real-life autonomous vehicle trials needed”

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 8, 2019

As autonomous vehicle technology develops, more real-life trials will be required. Speaking at the Global Forum on Connected Cars in Munich, 7–8 February, Anders Dewoon, director of new business solutions at Scania, will highlight the need for trials in actual traffic situations.

“There is no doubt that we will master the technology but we need to learn more about the systems support that will be required,” he said. “We need to test business models as well as how services can be effectively reorganised for vehicles in motion 24/7.”

Representing the heavy vehicle industry, Dewoon has been invited to speak about sustainable transport solutions and connectivity and how this is reshaping the ecosystem of transport and logistics. “We have seen the inherent inefficiency in logistics with low fill rates. Connectivity, and the prospect of increasing loads with the help of better data, shared more openly in situational and more permanent collaborative models, will contribute to a more sustainable transport system.”

Autonomous vehicles will gradually be introduced, initially in confined environments such as mines, ports and building sites, according to Dewoon. As soon as autonomously driven vehicles become sufficiently technically mature and legally permissible, the technology will rapidly spread. The economic benefits of autonomy are so great that manually driven trucks and buses will be unable to compete.

“Platooning, which earlier was considered to be an intermediate step on the road to autonomous vehicles, now seems less attractive considering the recent decision by the European Commission not to reform driving and rest period regulations.”

Rather, Dewoon now advocates more ambitious trials with autonomous vehicles, such as hub-to-hub transports on dedicated motorway lanes. “We as truck manufacturers need to partner with others to really explore the full scope of what this new technology will entail.”

Meanwhile, it is clear that the prospect of self-driving electric trucks and buses will fundamentally alter traditional business models. Scania and others must re-examine their businesses when the value added through the combustion engine and cab no longer exists. “We must find a different role in this ecosystem and based on the wealth of data we collect, can in partnership operate a more efficient logistics system.”