Safety through innovation: The trucks of the future will be controlled by advanced technology and artificial intelligence – without any human influence. However, can we rely on technology to 100 percent? The opinions on this could not be more contrasting.

Could and would one like to have a fully loaded 40 ton truck driven independently without surveillance?

The forsa study by CosmosDirekt revealed through a survey with multiple answers that 73 percent of Germans might feel strange if they gave control to a self-driving car. 34 percent of the survey participants have no trust at all in the technology.

A large proportion of consumers are of the opinion that a person promises more safety than an autonomous vehicle. However, 90 percent of all accidents are caused by human error due to limited driving ability, fatigue or distraction. Depending on the level of automation, the number of accidents can be drastically reduced. Nevertheless, traffic accidents would not be prevented absolutely. Despite proper behaviour, trucks can be involved in unpleasant situations. In an emergency situation, the system and not the occupant, decides which manoeuvre to perform.

But how does the self-guided vehicle act when an accident cannot be prevented anymore?

How would you behave in this situation and what would be the consequences?

The platform “Moral Machine” collects information on the moral decisions people would tend to make, if emergency situations arise and intelligent machines such as self-propelled cars become responsive.

How should the truck behave when an accident can no longer be prevented? Should the truck drive straight ahead and thereby endanger the life of another person, or the life of the passenger by driving towards an obstacle at high speed?

With the approval of autonomous vehicles, the problem needs to be faced that moral dilemmas will arise in the future.

The supply and transport industry can be made more efficient through autonomous driving.

Still, autonomous driving is a vision of future trucks and cars.

The technology, which aims to provide economic advantages and better performance in logistics, is already progressing on company premises. In this case, it is not necessary to consider the unwise behaviour of pedestrians or cyclists bending off.

The Cologne-based freight forwarder Emons is pursuing this path on the ideal test field:

Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Traffic and Infrastructure Systems, the forwarding company is working on the development of automated electrically powered trucks. These can be controlled from a factory gate to the desired loading ramp.

According to Fraunhofer, it will be possible for a single operator to control up to 50 vehicles simultaneously without the help of a driver. The first independent trip is planned for summer 2019.

Whether society is ready for fully automated trucks in public transport is debatable, because objective morality cannot be defined. Which manoeuvre to take in a possible traffic accident and whether to trust the vehicle in emergency situations lies in the idea of values and norms of the own personal being. However, digitized processes help us to work more efficiently. With autonomous driving and the help of networked driving systems, safety levels on the road can be increased. Supporters see advantages in improved route planning, less stress in traffic jams or long distances.

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