Over in America the times, they are a changin’. Yes, over the pond, permission has just been granted for the testing of the world’s first driverless van.
It has no controls – no steering wheel, no foot pedals, no rear-view mirrors. Nothing. Nada, Zip. It’s also smaller in size than most American cars. It’s envisaged that the vehicle will be used for delivering hot food, like pizzas, groceries and small packages, in the first instance.
Nuro, the manufacturer of autonomous delivery vans could spell the end to your American brothers, the American men (and women) in vans.
Testing will start in the coming months in Houston, Texas. It’s the first test of its kind, as previous tests of driverless cars in the USA have always required a human in the front who is (theoretically) able to use their own controls to stop the vehicle or avoid an accident if one looks imminent. (Although that hasn’t always worked out quite as planned). Tests will be overseen by the US Department of Transport.
The vehicle, which has a top speed of 25mph, is being heralded as a ‘milestone in the industry’, but it’s likely safe to say the UK van industry doesn’t need to break a sweat just yet. Let’s think about it. How many pizzas do we actually deliver here in the UK? How about all those twisty-turny narrow lanes, complex traffic systems and double-parked cars most UK van drivers have to contend with each and every day? It’s not quite the long straight roads on grids, with quiet, wide-open roads that they have in Texas, is it? How many vans the size of small cars would we need to actually make all the deliveries that we need? Mrs CVI could fill one with her weekly Waitrose shop in one go.
If the future really is driverless, it’s safe to say that here at least, van drivers only have to worry about getting the best van driver insurance deal for themselves, and not the future and being laid off as a result of a robot. Not just yet, anyway.