Implementing commercial autonomous road haulage in freight operations: An industry perspective

Safaa Sindi, Roger Woodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


Interest from industry and policy makers on the use of autonomous goods vehicles (AGVs) for commercial use, has increased rapidly as the underlying technology has developed. This study looks at the potential impact of autonomous road haulage on logistics operations and barriers for commercial implementation in the UK. The research focuses on large goods vehicles, capable of automated driving, where the driver is not required for some or all of the journey, for logistics operations between suppliers, manufacturing plant, and retailer. The data is collected through semi-structured interviews and scoring questionnaires. All 76 participants had experience working in the logistics industry, from various parts of the operations process. The data was analysed using thematic analysis followed with the results subsequently ranked by participants to identify the importance and perceived impact. Results revealed a near-term barrier for adoption of autonomous technology, is the lack of standardisation, as technology is progressing in many different directions, with little consultation on what features are needed or how they will be implemented. The findings show the main impact of commercialisation of autonomous road haulage are overall maintenance cost reduction, due to less wear and tear, and operational cost reduction, especially for long-haul journeys, as vehicles can operate for longer hours. Moreover, despite barriers in the short term, such as public acceptance and transition costs, these will likely be outweighed by improvements in efficiency and utilisation. Based on findings from the study, we present six key considerations for the introduction of commercial autonomous road haulage, which can be used as a guide for policy makers, insurance companies, transport planning authorities, and vehicle manufacturers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-253
Number of pages19
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Early online date4 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Autonomous road haulage
  • Autonomous trucks
  • Freight operations
  • Transport policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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