A transport company may save between 6,000 and 10,000 euros a year per self-driving truck. This study conducted by VIL also raises questions as to the fate of the truck driver, since this profession is about to be dramatically redefined.
Self-driving trucks will arrive on European, and therefore Belgian roads by 2020. High time to look at the impact on the truck driver profession.
Today’s driver is passionate about his/her truck, has a certain desire for freedom and has his/her hands on the steering wheel.
In the future, he or she will no longer have to actualy drive the truck on long stretches of motorway. This will give him or her some free time to do something else.
Administration behind the wheel
Which value-adding tasks can the truck driver perform in a self-driving truck? Such was the premise of the Value Added Trucking project investigated by Flemish knowledge centre for the logistics sector VIL.
- Trip-related tasks, such as the administrative processing of the transport order
- Non trip-related tasks, such as accepting new transport jobs
- The registration of practical and commercial information about loading and unloading.
- Following part of the mandatory 35 hours of refresher courses every 5 years (Code 95).
The practical tests of the VIL showed that the driver can perform these different tasks electronically.
Up to 10,000 euros saved per truck
If the driver can perform administrative tasks while driving, a transport company with 10 administrative staff members would be able to require one person less. When calculated for each self-driving truck, this would mean a saving of between 6,000 and 10,000 euros.
And this also assumes that there is greater safety and maybe higher customer satisfaction.
Naturally, this is based on the condition that the drivers are able to perform these tasks. “The driver of tomorrow is a polyvalent administrative assistant, preferably with the characteristics of an account manager,” VIL writes in an article on Value Added Trucking. “And carriers will therefore have to determine to what extent their drivers are suitably competent with regard to communication, language skills, computer literacy and multimedia use.”
More fatigue for drivers?
In collaboration with IMOB/UHasselt, VIL also studied the impact of the work in a self-driving truck on the driver’s fatigue.
- On day one, the drivers in a simulated self-driving truck were not given any tasks.
- On day two, they were given a limited number of administrative tasks and training.
- On the third day, each driver was given a full timetable of tasks.
The tests show that the excessive workload of day 3 caused them stress. Conversely, the low workload of day 1 led to boredom. Both expressed themselves in increased fatigue.
The right balance between driving, resting, tasks and training induces a lower level of fatigue and contributes to greater safety for the driver and other road users.
The comprehensive survey report can be purchased from the VIL web shop: Value Added Trucking.