Categories: Top News

Is The Driverless Menace Coming Home?

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With driverless technology, it is clear the human input will be reduced and efficiency will increase

The immense success of Tesla, the market leader in self-driving electric cars, has sparked the development of self-driving technologies by a slew of companies.

While self-driving vehicles are unlikely to arrive on our shores in droves anytime soon, what impact could they have on our daily lives?

Tony Fernandes, the AirAsia CEO, showed a brand new Tesla Model T in a selfie on Instagram.

While he intended to show that he embraces the ‘green’ technology, it did not go down well with IG users who attacked him for acquiring a high-priced vehicle.

But this is not the menace I am looking at. It is the extent of the embrace of the technology by the transportation industry at large that is the question here. 

When will Malaysian companies in the transportation industry, follow the lead from the US and Europe, China to go driverless?

Tesla cars are now in Malaysia. The country is gearing up for more electric vehicles soon. Business Today ran a story that was well-received on the collaboration between Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and SOCAR Mobility Malaysia (SOCAR).

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) says the companies will leverage shared demand data on electric vehicle (EV) usage in Malaysia and travel behaviour to identify strategic locations along key travel routes for the installation of charging infrastructure. 

The demand data shared would determine the location, number and type of chargers for installation, including direct current or DC fast chargers.

Driverless cars and trucks will also tend to be electric vehicles, which is why I am pointing to the deal.

Nevertheless, the driverless industry is also moving into the trucking business with self-driving technologies (article published by The Motley Fool) for trucks that could transform the entire industry.

If trucks can drive themselves on highways taxis will follow and buses or delivery vans, and why not a driverless bicycle or motorcycle?

It is not too early to speculate on the influence this technology would have on drivers, in particular, in the country.

However, the menace is not for drivers only. It is an entire game-changer for the industry that may put some old-fashioned companies out of business because they will have a hard time coping with driverless technology.

What happens to them if the trucking industry starts to use self-driving or driverless trucks?

In the technology world, they call it ‘Unintended Consequences’ and the number one of such consequences is unemployment.

In The Motley Fool article, the author says driverless technology promises to offset the rising cost of human drivers and also slash fuel expenses.

With driverless technology, it is clear the human input will be reduced and efficiency will increase. Driverless trucks, like driverless cars, are more steady, can keep lanes and they brake less frequently with the help of sensors. 

All these mean improved fuel consumption, less wear and tear and reduced risks on the road.

This is not good news for the brave truck drivers and private, individual owners in the trucking industry.

Will it spell the end for these drivers, who will remain stuck in Hollywood movies like Duel, Breakdown and Thunder Run?

Self-driving trucks mean cheaper and faster deliveries and since everyone is after reduced costs and better savings, it is clear this technology will cause pain to the driver communities even if driverless trucks are still years away.

Many speculate that the trucking industry will see a widespread loss of jobs with the rise of self-driving technology. 

Some have forecast that autonomous vehicles will eliminate 2-3 million trucking jobs over the next several years in the US.

The tides of technological changes are already on the shores of the country and we need to readily embrace these changes swiftly or risk being washed away onto the wayside of irrelevance.

My article in Business Today

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Kazi Mahmood

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