It’s the but which is wrong here

Self-driving lorries and digital technology will fundamentally reshape the logistics industry, slashing costs and boosting efficiency.

The claim comes in a new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers which predicts huge benefits for businesses which need to move goods around – but mass job losses among those currently working in the sector.

It’s “because mass job losses.”

19 thoughts on “It’s the but which is wrong here”

  1. I have my doubts, to put it mildly.

    I’d guess most costs in logistics are in the final delivery. From producer to warehouse is already containerised and shipped by means using few man-hours.

    The self-driving truck needs to be loaded. It’ll be a while before we have robotics good enough to do that. I suppose it could be programmed with today’s technology, but it’s very doubtful that it would be cheaper than people.

    So the robot loaded truck arrives near the delivery point, and then what? Most driveways and car lots aren’t on Google maps, so it won’t be going in to the residence or place of business. It drops the parcel on the street outside? It finds the right person and gets a signature?

    Even if trucks are driven automatically, there’s a long time before they’re unloaded that way. That requires the sort of intelligence the AI people are really struggling with.

  2. But you see, all long-distance truck drivers are actually frustrated rocket scientists and brain surgeons and all they need is a sink or swim stimulus, to jump out of the slowly heating pot of water, and they can achieve their dreams. It’ll be walk out of one job and straight into another, better paying, shorter hours and higher status. They’ll never look back.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    Chester gets it. Technology replaces tasks not jobs. It will be a very long time, if ever, that autonomous vehicles will be able to safely navigate the first and last miles.

    Drivers will get more rest so may be able to do longer journeys without mandatory stops, but aren’t going to see mass lay-offs in the next 30 years.

  4. It a re-hash of the “this time next year we’ll be up to our arses in self-driving supercars” vomit.

    Trucks that follow simple instructions on test tracks is one thing science-chumps.

    Absolute carnage on motorways and roads is another.

    If Price and Whatsit talk this much shite I’d definitely deny the clowns a place in the Eck’s Organisation–if only there was one.

  5. Actually, motorways are the most likely place to see self-driving vehicles. Controlled environment, restricted access, rigidly defined layout. And self-driving is easier to implement with navigation bouys which is easier to put along a motorway than the public highway.

    As a child I read a story set in a future England that had a passage where “he went so far the autodrive tracks ran out, and he had to take over manual driving”.

  6. Will they still be overtaking each other with a 1mph speed differential on the 2-lane A34? And losing ground when the gradient goes against them? Will self-driving cars stuck behind them get frustrated?

  7. “So the robot loaded truck arrives near the delivery point, and then what? Most driveways and car lots aren’t on Google maps, so it won’t be going in to the residence or place of business. It drops the parcel on the street outside? It finds the right person and gets a signature?”

    It phones you up and says: “I’m outside your house, come and get it. Tap in the following number at the hatch to access your parcel…”

  8. “It phones you up and says: “I’m outside your house, come and get it. Tap in the following number at the hatch to access your parcel…””

    Fat lot of good that will be when I’m out!

  9. No worries Prole.

    I’m sure there will be no problem for a new generation of Robo-Lorry hijackers( The lorries being robo that is not the hijackers–tho’ doubtless that will come). So many opportunities that lorry hijackers might well be the criminal aristocrats of whatever decade the robo-lorries arrive.

    Sometime before 2240 then at present rate of AI progress.

  10. ‘predicts that by 2030’

    Science fiction, then.

    ‘A form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals.’

  11. “Fat lot of good that will be when I’m out!”

    No problem. Have it drop off at your place of work, or at the camp site, or outside the hotel, or have it track your mobile phone and pull up outside the pub!

    Or simply have it call up half an hour beforehand and say “I’m now in your area, are you available to pick up your parcel? Press 0 to collect within the next 30 minutes, press 1 to reschedule…”

  12. Rowdy, plenty of logistics already travels by trains. Some stuff, such as parcels, are not worth it.

    Now as for sorting parcels – that could use more robotics. How much could be saved by getting rid of a couple hundred staff?

    Loading the pallets on a truck? Yes that could be done by robot but not much time saved – a half dozen guys can load a trailer unit in under 5 minutes.

  13. Maybe the truck could just deploy a drone for the last part, given the range and charging limitations for drones using a truck as a mobile drone platform might make sense. Arrive in an area park, deploy drones for deliveries in area then when they are all back just move on to the next area
    Given that autopilot/self driving exists for other modes of transit and has for a long time I wouldn’t be writing off humans having to be avaialable to take control for any new technology just yet

  14. There’s a serious design problem here.

    How will self-driving trucks of peace be able to run over civilians at Bastille day celebrations or Christmas markets?

  15. “Given that autopilot/self driving exists for other modes of transit and has for a long time I wouldn’t be writing off humans having to be avaialable to take control for any new technology just yet”

    But we still have pilots in planes. See, flying is actually way easier to do 100% automation than driving, but we still have pilots.

    The thing with all automation is that you always need humans for the unforseen exceptions or to deal with odd situations.

    For example: I’ve worked on systems that produce a million customer bills but 100 of those bills were for foreign customers and for each, someone had to calculate and stick on the postage. It was cheaper to have a human doing this than to write the software for 100 bills. A few customers had so many pages, they couldn’t go through the mailing machine and had to be hand stuffed.

    You can run a beautifully automated factory and a bird gets in somehow and starts breaking all the safety sensors and shutting down the machines. So you need a human to be checking the factory. You can’t even just have a human receiving an email because what if the alert emailler fails?

    A lot of work with automation is reducing people but getting a system down to 0 people is really hard. How’s a wheel going to get changed on a truck if it fails? How are you going to stop a truck getting robbed? How are you going to handle moving aside for emergency services? And yes, these are rare situations, but you have to think about them. And there’s hundreds of others you and I haven’t thought of.

    The thing humans are very good at is dealing with new situations. We ask others for advice, we take a best informed decision. Computers don’t.

    At best, self-driving vehicles are semi-autonomous. The software protects you from dumb human driving.

  16. Mr Ecks,

    I would never hire the large management and software consultancies. I’ve dealt with a few. You deal with an organisation led by people who are ruthless about selling and hire the cheapest people they can to do the work.

    Mostly they just get work from government and the sort of giant companies that have created a stupid, bureaucratic procurement process for getting software that shuts out competent, experienced, medium size consultancies.

  17. “You deal with an organisation led by people who are ruthless about selling and hire the cheapest people they can to do the work.”

    I noted as a computer scientist (retired) that management assumed computer jocks were fungible. Ability was – often fatally – assumed.

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