A journey of almost 200 km, a cargo of 50,000 beer cans – and no driver. With a spectacular test run the taxi provider Uber has led the way in the USA: the autonomous truck may not be that far from becoming a reality. In Europe too there have already been trucks which, although not entirely autonomous, have travelled in a networked convoy. They drive a fixed distance apart and if the front vehicle brakes all the others slow down as well. This increases safety on the roads and can reduce operating costs by up to 15 per cent, according to estimates by the management consultancy Strategy&.
The removal firm Schenker wants to try these convoys from 2018 and operate such networked trucks regularly on the motorway A9 between Munich and Nuremberg. But just when we can expect fully autonomous trucks on the roads is something no-one is prepared to say. MAN CEO Joachim Drees talks about “dreams for the future,” and for Daimler-Trucks boss Martin Daum it is “very far in the future”. Because there is a social problem that has yet to be solved: what is to become of our truckers?