CAVs and the Impact on Route Planning

Route Planning for CAVs

Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are not yet on our roads. The technology exists and trials have been conducted, but the legislation needed to allow them to travel safely on our road network hasn’t caught up. But it will.

The government is serious about CAVs. It estimates the UK’s market for connected and autonomous vehicles to be worth £52bn by 2035. It sees an opportunity for UK leadership in CAV technology and innovation. It’s all part of a broader industrial strategy called The Future of Mobility. Automotive Minister Richard Harrington stated in February 2019 that self-driving cars would be on the roads in the UK by 2021. A strengthened code of practice for CAV trials was released this year.

 

Future Perspectives

In a few years CAVs will be commonplace in our transport landscape. There are three key reasons for this…

 

1) Safety

As their sensors and software become more and more refined, autonomous vehicles will certainly be safer than those with human pilots. There will be fewer accidents and less risk of injury and fatalities. And once this has been statistically and practically proven, it will be hard for governments to justify allowing cars under human control to travel on public highways.

 

 

2) Efficiency

Sophisticated software can control and optimise efficiency in braking, acceleration and speed, reducing energy consumption and minimising wear and tear on vehicles, so they need fewer repairs and less frequent replacement.

 

3) Productivity

Humans travelling in autonomous vehicles can work, study, rest or interact digitally en route. Commercial drivers can be employed for other more valuable work, or used only for deliveries or drop-offs where an individual is needed to carry out face-to-face activities. A single hub-based co-ordinator might oversee and monitor a number of CAVs, rather than one operator being allocated per vehicle.

Of course, there will be many adaptations needed before CAVs can operate effectively – including in the law, to highways infrastructure, in attitudes to vehicle ownership, in transport business operations and in individual and organisational work- and lifestyles.

For example, how would car pooling work with autonomous vehicles? It would be most efficient and desirable if more than one person travelled in each vehicle, but how would this be co-ordinated and how would people share costs?

At the moment, there’s considerable prestige and convenience associated with car ownership: information campaigns and incentives will be needed to change attitudes among the UK’s population.

 

 

What about taxi companies? How will they adapt? Some people would say that the Uber model provides a framework for CAVs – allowing the communal use of private vehicles on demand. Perhaps consumers will group together to share a vehicle. Or they might access private transport by subscription, using a fleet provided by a former taxi company.

There will be challenges in terms of prioritising journeys for sharers or subscribers and providing enough availability. It’s conceivable that service levels might hold the key. For example, a subscription might provide access to a CAV service that will be available within 30 minutes to the person’s home, for journeys of up to 5 miles. A higher priced subscription might reduce the lead time and increase the range. Reductions might apply for shared journeys.

In commercial transport, there will be different challenges. Vans and lorries load up their deliveries at warehouses or hubs and discharge them at business or consumer addresses. Already, many state-of-the-art warehouse facilities are highly automated, with robotic processes picking and packing orders. But when the delivery arrives at its destination, who will unload it? If the recipient is to self-serve, how will they prove their identity? If a robot is used, will it be capable of climbing stairs, negotiating kerbs or manoeuvring in awkward spaces?

 

Route Planning and Hub Locations

Route planning and hub locations will likely be key to maintaining an efficient delivery network using CAVs. Logistics software experts like CACI are keenly aware of this huge future change and working to prepare the digital mapping tools and resources that organisations will need to invest, build and operate a CAV fleet profitably.

 

If you’d like to talk to an expert at CACI about future developments in transport technology and infrastructure that might affect your business, please get in touch with our distribution and logistics technology team.