At CES in January a big focus was put on self drive technology revealing new steps in technology, safety and comfort. In the UK at last Novembers Wired conference automotive tech company, Charge, revealed plans for a new type of autonomous van that can be built quickly, cheaply and have low emissions. Software for self-drive deliveries is apparently ready to upload as soon as legislation is agreed for autonomous vehicles.
Are we getting to the end of the road, so to speak, for driven vehicles delivering our much-needed supplies to businesses and homes? The technology is there but do we actually want it.
Professor Mosh Vardi of US university Rice said at the American Association of the Advancement of Science, that many middle-class jobs will be replaced by automation seeing the end of jobs like prison guards and bar tenders.
The technology for replacing bartenders has been around for decades, its called vending, but I for one prefer to be served a drink or food, ask questions about the menu and get a personal response. I even appreciate the occasional surly bar man appearing to be annoyed at having to do his job from time to time.
But what about drivers, will we see the end to personal deliveries?
From the thousands of requests for transporters our service Delivery Quote Compare receive, we’ve had requests for quotes for moving a Ford Capri gearbox, a 15 draw oak cabinet and a blacksmiths anvil. How would automated transport deal with collecting these?
For the past few years we’ve heard many times that drone deliveries will be with us imminently but hasn’t really come to anything. (Although drone company Zipline have begun delivering medicines and blood in Rwanda using their drones, good luck and keep it up).
Ignoring the cost, limited distance, viability and vulnerability to hacking, how will a drone post a note through the door explaining your package is in the blue bin or with a neighbour? How will it put the box in the front room for the pensioner who isn’t that nimble?
The same goes for delivery drivers. The most questions we get from consumers about our transporters relates to the person, are the trust worthy? will they look after my stuff? and can they help me move it into the kitchen, garden or bathroom?
Am I being a luddite, stuck in the past and wanting to cling on to old fashioned ideas? Probably a bit. I can see massive advantages to autonomous vehicles. Falling out of the pub and have your car drive you home, great! (so long as the legislation allows for full automation) Uber have recently negotiated with Mercedes to lease a fleet of self-drive vehicles. There may be fewer vehicles on the road using platooning of trucks, great! Safer roads, apparently 90% of accidents are related to driver error, a great benefit. But will we see the end of our knock on the door and or friendly man and van?