More than three quarters (82 percent) of GCC transport companies expect autonomous trucks to become a viable option on the roads within the next decade, according to a new survey.
The findings were part of research by the World Road Transport Organisation (IRU) which conducted a survey among 450 global transport companies globally.
The majority of surveyed transport companies in the GCC (57 percent) view geopolitical uncertainty as the biggest threat to their development.
Additionally, they view technology and innovation as a key to overcoming challenges and securing the future of the industry.
Umberto de Pretto, IRU’s secretary general, said: “The global transport system touches the lives of each of the planet’s seven billion people, from the food we eat to the consumer goods we buy. So it’s perhaps not surprising that many of the issues facing society today are also considered by transport companies to be their biggest challenges. These include some of the main themes that dominate the international agenda, including geopolitics, trade and the environment.”
The survey said one in three of GCC transport companies believe that improving safety will be the biggest innovation opportunity.
When it came to safety, companies within the GCC are particularly enthusiastic about the possibility of innovation improving safety while driving (91 percent). They are also enthusiastic about intelligent transport systems that could reduce hard driving conditions.
Within the GCC, 82 percent of companies said they believe that new digital platforms for vehicles as well as telematics on board vehicles are both ways technology could boost productivity, with the biggest opportunities in engine efficiency, decarbonisation in transport and enhancing intermodal transport.
Barriers to adopting technology persist – with GCC transport companies citing a limited understanding of the range of technologies available (62 percent), followed by a lack of training to leverage such skills among employees (57 percent) and the high level of investment required (53 percent).
Boris Blanche, IRU’s managing director, said: “There is no question that autonomous trucks will eventually be transformative for the industry – helping boost productivity, create efficiencies and enhance driver working conditions.
"But drivers will not become obsolete any time in the future, and in fact the industry must continue to encourage more drivers into the profession. Proper and responsible adoption over time is required, and we must see full cooperation from all industry stakeholders.”
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