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GCC stands to gain the most from driverless trucks

Strategy& and OEMS like Daimler concur that the efficiencies of self-driving technology will become more than relevant in the Gulf

Dr Ulrich Kögler, Strategy& partner in Dubai.
Dr Ulrich Kögler, Strategy& partner in Dubai.

Consultancy company Strategy& has asserted that the GCC stands to gain the most from driverless technology of any region in the world.

The firm noted that “more than one million trucks are currently in operation across the region and this number increases by 5-9% each year”.

In the absence of an established rail network, the report notes that this trend poses significant challenges for the region’s economies and environment, including more pollution, road accidents and traffic congestion due to the high volume of trucks on the roads.

Driverless technology, by contrast, could “reduce fuel costs, dramatically reduce the number and cost of accident, reduce expatriate labour and create high value added technology jobs and firms,” according Dr Ulrich Kögler, Strategy& partner in Dubai.

“GCC countries will benefit from autonomous trucks more than any other region in the world. By thinking proactively about these issues GCC countries have a real opportunity to become a global leader in an evolving technology,” he continued.

Looking specifically at fuel efficiency, some estimates suggest that driverless trucks would increase the efficiency of cargo trucks by 15-20% through computer-optimised acceleration and braking.

A second key advantage is safety, as autonomous operation could reduce the number of accidents involving trucks – such incidents account for about 10% of road fatalities, and cost up to $8bn a year, according to Strategy& estimates.

In terms of the technology, experimental self-driving vehicles such as Google’s driverless cars have already accumulated millions kilometres of on U.S. highways, and other manufacturers are making great strides in developing autonomous-truck technology, eyeing mass production within a decade.

Daimler has also made significant headway with driverless technology for the commercial sector, hitting the headlines with its pilot of a driverless freightliner on the lanes of the German Autobahn.

Speaking to PMV last year, Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, noted: “We believe that especially with long-haul trucks that drive for hours and hours, the application of self-driving devices are more important than passenger cars.

“One reason is safety, because drivers get tired and distracted, and 80%-90% of all truck accidents are caused by human error. Secondly, on the efficiency side, precise acceleration and braking will ensure the conservation of fuel. We think that a 5% reduction in fuel consumption is easily possible.”

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