Scania’s Christian Levin on the future of autonomy

Despite all the developments happening in the area of driverless technology, fully autonomous trucks remain a distant vision, according to Christian Levin, Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Sales & Marketing at Scania.

Scania is currently testing self-driving vehicles for use in mining operations and will deploy them in Australia by the end of the year, and is also engaged in a ‘platooning’ project in Singapore which will involve four trucks travelling transferring containers between port terminals.

However, interviewed by the SMMT’s Transport News Brief website last month, Christian Levin said: “As far as the majority of on-highway trucks are concerned, what is more likely in the short-to-medium term is the introduction of semi-autonomous models, with someone still in the cab.

“The role of the driver – if that is still the right term to use – will change. Drivers will become more like truck managers. Their role will be akin to someone who keeps an eye on machinery in a factory; but they will still have to respond quickly if there is an emergency. Freeing them from constantly having to keep an eye on the road means they will be able to take on more administrative duties – in effect the cab will become an office.”

He also spoke about the ability of trucks to transmit and receive large quantities of data using semi-autonomous and advanced telematics systems, which is key to the flexible maintenance programmes that Scania and other manufacturers are introducing, because the data determines when a truck needs to come into the workshop.

He said:  “The investment dealers have made in equipment and training, and the efficiency levels they have achieved, have steadily driven down repair and maintenance bills in real terms over the years. Hauliers can calculate the true cost of operating their own workshops and I am sure that if they do so there is only one conclusion they can reach.  It is that the dealer can do it better.”