FEATURE: Roadmap plots the course to the autonomous future

11 September 2019

Imagine a road network where physical signage is totally redundant.

According to a new report, this could soon be reality. And much sooner than you may expect. 2027 to be exact.

That’s just one of the predictions set out in a new report published by Zenzic – the government-backed organisation with a mission to facilitate connected and autonomous mobility.

Its UK Connected and Autonomous Mobility Roadmap sets out a vision to make the UK a global leader in the field by 2030. It also outlines the 500-plus milestones that need to be reached to facilitate this.

The ‘roadmap’ was built with the feedback and support of more than 150 organisations spanning government, industry and academia.

And its key findings make interesting reading for those in the commercial vehicle sector, transport and logistics. Among them:

The first commercial trials of self-driving services will begin in 2021
The first commercial freight platoons could be operating on UK roads by 2025
The key transition phase for self-driving services will be 2024-2026. These will appear first in urban areas
Improved vehicle connectivity will eliminate the need for road signage by 2027
Self-driving vehicles will ‘vastly reduce’ the number of serious collisions

In addition, the roadmap makes a number of recommendations. These include a recommendation that government and industry invest in logistics test facility capabilities as early as this year. This, it says, will further catalyse the development of interfaces between depots and vehicles, orchestration technologies and business models for first and last mile.

While following the roadmap could make the UK a global leader, failure to act on its recommendations could set the nation well behind its competitors, according to Zenzic. What could be achieved by 2030, could instead take until as late as 2079 to implement fully, with much of the technology having to be bought in from overseas.

Daniel Ruiz, CEO at Zenzic, said, “We are in a period of dramatic social and economic change. Transport is fundamental to the change as it delivers ‘mobility’; and mobility itself will soon be transformed by the new technologies associated with connectivity and automation, including ‘self-driving’. The exploitation of these technologies through innovative operating and business models can bring economic benefits in terms of local and national efficiencies, as well as exports of UK skills and products.

“We believe this tool is the competitive advantage we need to be a world leader in Connected and Autonomous Mobility (CAM). The roadmap will not only enable those involved to maximise the return on their investments in time and money, but also streamline the creation of targeted strategies to deliver significant social and economic benefits for the UK.”

Future of Transport Minister, George Freeman, added, “UK leadership in connected and self-driving vehicles has the potential to transform our transport network and attract billions of investment to the UK.

“The UK is a global leader in the development and safe testing of this technology, thanks to collaboration between government, industry and academia.

“Zenzic’s roadmap is a fantastic example of the public and private sector working together to shape the future of connected and self-driving technologies – and demonstrate the UK as a world leading test-bed in 21st century Mobility.”

The full roadmap, can be viewed here zenzic.io/roadmap