2019 Speaker Interviews

Discover more about the topics and technologies that were discussed at the 2019 conference, via a series of exclusive interviews with a selection of our expert speakers.

Rise of the road pilots

James Tillyer, founder and consultant of Transformotion, introduces Steer to Career, an EU-funded project that seeks to reduce the future impact of mass commercial driver redundancies resulting from the advent of autonomous trucks.

Describe your presentation?
Eleven million truck and bus drivers in Europe face an uncertain future because of vehicle autonomy. This presentation will introduce Steer to Career, an EU-funded project that seeks to encourage the ​development of professional drivers to reduce the future impact of mass redundancy and to get companies thinking about how they can use their drivers' experience and skills to go from being 'just a driver' to becoming a road pilot. The speaker will offer scenarios and predictions based on research, and discuss the technical and social skills needed for the future.

In what areas do you think today's truck drivers will need to retool?
We've identified four categories as key to a successful career beyond driving: the maintenance, safety and security of autonomous vehicles; managing connected digital tools and records; customer service; and fleet and hub management. Unlike other projects, we're considering both professional and social skills development, in response to the fact that many drivers work in isolation and/or with minor customer interaction. That's going to change, so drivers need to develop awareness, conflict management and duty of care skills to make the transition.

For bus drivers, they'll move from behind the wheel to being in with the passengers. Their role will be to manage the safety and security of everyone on board; think air marshal, attendant and pilot and you won't be far off! For truck drivers it will be skills as a first responder as well as customer liaison officer/service manager, etc.

In your opinion, what are the most important competences and attributes for tomorrow's professional driver?
Social ability, professionalism, customer care and technical competency. This will be equally true for the minibus and van drivers that further add to Europe's 11 million truck and bus drivers.

When do you expect to see fully autonomous lorry fleets hit the road?
It is likely to follow a pattern, with fully autonomous trucks first used in hubs, construction sites, warehouse locations, airside operations and private land. While that's going on the regulatory framework will be further developed, alongside failsafe infrastructure. Then the trucks will be permitted to use high speed roads (motorways, interstate highways, autobahns, etc) with the driver taking over once the vehicle comes off that road. Then eventually Level 5 trucks will be permitted to use all road types.

However, before we get there, there must be consideration for public acceptance, regulatory framework, cross-border collaboration, signage, lane control, infrastructure, mixed traffic conditions and accountability.

Don’t miss James Tillyer, founder and consultant ​of Transformotion, give his presentation titled Rise of the road pilots on Day 1 as part of Stream 8: Road Freight – Pathway to Efficiency. See the full conference program here. Register for your conference pass here.

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