More than a quarter (29%) of international transport companies believe that autonomous trucks will be a reality on the roads within the next five years, research by the International Road Transport Union has found. More than three quarters think they will be viable within the next decade.
According to a news report by Commercial Fleet, transport companies believe the primary benefit of automation will be boosting productivity (50%) and helping to cut costs (19%).
The main barriers to adopting the technology were considered to be cost and investment (71%), followed by a limited understanding of the range of emerging technologies available (50%).
“There is no question that autonomous trucks will eventually be transformative for the industry – helping boost productivity, create efficiencies and enhance driver working conditions,” the IRU’s MD Boris Blanche said. “But drivers will not become obsolete any time in the future, and in fact the industry must continue to encourage more drivers into the profession. Proper and responsible adoption over time is required, and we must see full cooperation from all industry stakeholders.”
The majority (57%) of the 450 transport companies who took part in the research said the biggest threat they faced was geopolitical uncertainty – from global trade wars to growing concerns about Brexit – followed by the threat of global recession and keeping up with changing customer demand (both 52%).
Umberto de Pretto, the IRU’s Secretary General, commented: “The global transport system touches the lives of each of the planet’s seven billion people, from the food we eat to the consumer goods we buy. So it’s perhaps not surprising that many of the issues facing society today are also considered by transport companies to be their biggest challenges. These include some of the main themes that dominate the international agenda, including geopolitics, trade and the environment.”