On 2 October the project team came together in Thessaloniki to discuss progress and the next steps for development.
The focus of the meeting was the recent stakeholder engagement questionnaire which sought the views of drivers and other stakeholders on current tasks and responsibilities and how they might evolve in the future.
As you'd expect there were different views and opinions, particularly around training and competences, and as a result of the feedback we've identified some key points for future engagement;
We will focus more on training and development
We will need more views from drivers in the bus and coach sector
Company owners are a key stakeholder and we will engage with them more regularly
We will have seperate interviews and / or questionnaries for bus and truck stakeholders
Another key topic for discussion was the evolution of the driver curriculum, lead by CERTH HIT, which will provide important information on future knowledge, skills (professional and social), competences, training scenarios and units of learning, for the benefit of professional driver development.
A detailed research paper has been produced which will form the baseline for developing the curriculum, and the team were able to establish the basic functionality and appearance (including the need for translation into several languages).
The team were also able to decide on the topics for development of two learning programmes of the future, which will provide practical guidance for the development of current drivers. The programmes will be divided between two partners, with IRU Projects taking on safety and security of level 5 autonomous vehicles and Dekra SE having responsibility for developing customer service.
A learning programme scenario will assume that a future truck driver (or road pilot) will spend some of his or her time in the truck cab (larger vehicles), overseeing the autonomous technology. Duties will include the recognition of safety systems and alerts, monitoring the security of the trailer, being in a position to take control of the vehicle and providing additional hazard perception skills.
The other scenario will assume that a bus driver is no longer behind the wheel. Instead they'll be with the passengers and have responsibility for providing assistance to physically or mentally impaired people, ensuring items and passengers are safe and secure, mitigating and managing conflict, acting as a fail-safe for vehicle autonomy and overseeing issues relating to fares.
What's clear from our work so far is that mixed traffic conditions (manual and autonomous vehicles using the same roads) will present a need for a combination of skills in the future, and that drivers will need to adapt to a very different environment.
If you have any views on fully autonomous trucks and buses and how drivers might be affected we'd love to hear your views. Feel free to contact the project coordinator, James Tillyer, at email@example.com