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Driverless trucks could lead to ferry market shift

[ January 21, 2020   //   ]

Driverless lorries could lead to an upsurge in ‘accompanied’ traffic on ro ro shipping, according to a white paper by the British Ports Association in collaboration with consultancy MDS Transmodal.

If the legal and technical challenges to autonomous trucks can be overcome, it could lead to an 80% share for accompanied trucks on ferries, it says. These vehicles would be accompanied  In effect, a new type of ro ro traffic would be created – – ‘driverless accompanied’.

It would also lead to growth in  traffic through almost all ports in Great Britain, but particularly through the Humber and on the Western English Channel.

The report concludes that while there are still many hurdles to be overcome before autonomous and ultra-low emission HGVs are operating on British highways, there is likely to be a significant future focus on overcoming these obstacles as operators seek to reduce costs and remain competitive.

‘The Impact of Autonomous and Ultra-Low Emission HGVs on the British RORO Port Market’ White Paper is released as part of the BPA’s Port Futures Programme which examines emerging trends in the maritime industries and explores the opportunities and challenges to British ports that may present themselves over the next 50 years.

Managing director at MDS Transmodal, Chris Rowland, said: “Our modelling of a scenario for autonomous and electric vehicles in 2050 suggests that potential developments include a substantial shift of traffic towards ‘driverless accompanied’ ro ro traffic through ports located on the North Sea and the Western English Channel and this would have implications for ro ro port operations and the amount of land required.”

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