Driverless lorries within a decade

Autonomous lorries look set to start appearing on public highways sooner than we might think, according to the International Transport Forum. It predicts today that driverless trucks could be a regular presence on many roads within a decade, and that demand for heavy goods drivers in Europe and America could fall by up to 70% by 2030.

The forum, which is currently hosting its annual summit in Germany, says that governments around the world must consider ways to manage the transition to driverless trucks to reduce social disruption from job losses.

Self driving trucks promise to make roads safer, reduce emissions and save costs associated with haulage. But over four million jobs could be at risk from automation, it warns.

“Driverless trucks could be a regular presence on many roads within the next 10 years,” said the forum’s secretary general José Viegas. “Manufacturers are investing heavily in automation and many governments are actively reviewing their regulations. Preparing now for the potential negative social impact of job losses will mitigate the risks in case a rapid transition occurs.”

International Road Transport Union president Christian Labrot added: “Autonomous trucks will bring many benefits to society, from cost savings and lower emissions to safer roads, and will also help the haulage sector deal with the current shortage of drivers in many parts of the world.

“However we have to remember the dedicated drivers of today will need to be retrained tomorrow. We all need to work together for a smooth transition to driverless technology.”