Are South African's ready for autonomous cars?

self driving carSelf-driving and electric vehicles are slowly becoming a reality with the automotive industry developing practical ways for them to be part of our daily lives. According to  Deloitte's automotive study,  47% of South African consumers desire limited self-driving cars (vehicle takes over all driving functions under certain traffic and environmental conditions) while 39% are interested in full self-driving vehicles (vehicle takes over all driving functions for an entire trip).

In South Africa, autonomous cars may be a little far fetched due to the limitations of our infrastructure. We are behind Europe and the USA in terms of digital technology and its cohesion with society.  If we were going to adopt this trend, many things would have to change. The transport legislation for one may have to be reviewed. Insurance policies, ethics and the age limit to getting a licence. In fact, most traditional factors would have to be reviewed, as a human will not be driving or making a decision during possible impact.

So, self-drive or autonomous? 
Automotive entrepreneur Elon Musk believes the act of driving may soon be outlawed. South Africa, like most third world countries will have to play catch up to this booming trend. Let us look at how this will affect the Supply Chain industry:        

DHL published a report 'Self-Driving Vehicles in Logistics' they reckon improved safety will be one of the major benefits. Drivers' causes 90% of road traffic accidents and driverless car advocates use these vehicles statistics to argue that autonomous systems make better and faster decisions than humans.

According to the report, the core areas that self-driving technology will impact in Logistics are:

  • Warehousing Operations, through technologies like autonomous loading, auto pallet movers, and assisted order picking.
  • Line Haul Transportation, through technologies like assisted highway trucking, and convoys with one live driver in a truck in front with oversight over a convoy of autonomous vehicles behind it.
  • Last-mile Delivery, which the report calls both "the least predictable part of the entire journey" and 'the most visionary application of self-driving vehicles in logistics.' 

There is a strong case for suggesting that the logistics industry will adopt self-driving vehicles much faster than most other industries as need for transport and delivery of goods is not going to change. But will transport companies risk sending precious cargo off without some kind of human supervision? Maybe a truck drivers job will shift from actual driving to 'goods supervision'.

So what is best, minimal work for the driver or no driver at all? It is safe to say driverless cars pose both a threat and opportunity for this industry. Millions of rands are at risk for automakers, suppliers, dealers, insurers, parking companies and many other car-related enterprises should the technology be adopted. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds!

An industry that's constantly reinventing itself needs the support of innovative recruiters who are up to the minute on the latest trends and challenges.  Communicate Recruitment is a specialist recruitment agency in the Supply Chain and Freight industries. Visit our website to learn more about us and how we can tailor recruitment solutions for your company.