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Future impacts of self-driving vehicles

A case study on the supply chain of e-commerce to identify important factors for the transport administrators of Sweden.

Titel: Future impacts of self-driving vehicles: A case study on the supply chain of e-commerce to identify important factors for the transport administrators of Sweden.
Författare: Kajsa Björsell och Josephine Hedman
Handledare på Trafikverket: Peter Smeds

Luleå tekniska universitet, civilingenjör, Industriell ekonomi


The rapid pace of the development of the transport and vehicle industry in combination with megatrends such as digitalization, automation, and electrification can have huge effects on how transport planning and the society evolves. In order to meet goals such as increased traffic safety, improved environment, and reduced congestions a lot needs to be done. Two tools expected to be of significance when creating a more transport efficient society are automation and digitalization, whereby self-driving vehicles (SDVs) is an important area.

The race towards fully autonomous vehicles is ongoing and scholars argue that the implementation of SDVs can be faster within in freight transportation than passenger transportation. Higher costsavings, as well as decreasing availability on the labor market, are two arguments for why freight transportation can be autonomous faster. Depending on how ambitious or slow the policy and planning are as well as the development of shared solutions, different future scenarios, as well as penetration rates of SDVs, can come through. One certain trend argued to continue to grow as well as having an impact on the development of SDVs is the rapid growth of e-commerce.

This study addresses the uncertainty concerning SDVs from a transport ad ministrator's perspective by identifying important factors for Trafikverket regarding the implementation of SDVs within freight transportation. Four already developed future plausible scenarios for the year 2030 lay the ground for this study and a case study concerning the supply chain of e-commerce in Sweden is used to delimitate the study. Interviews with distributors were held to conduct the case and two workshops with experts within the transport sector, academia, and authorities, as well as a meeting with a reference group with representatives from Trafikverket were held to collect data. In the workshops, the experts identified trends and system impacts within the four future scenarios.

A key insight gained in this study is that SDVs is an area with a lot of insecurity and thus, it needs to be investigated further. One solution to study the subject further is to implement restricted lanes for SDVs to test the technique properly. The results of this study clearly show that even though SDVs is a topical issue, it should not be studied as a solitary subject but rather in a larger context together with other significant factors. Nighttime transports and deliveries, platooning, and electric roads and electric vehicles are three factors that are likely to be implemented very soon and should, therefore, be studied together with SDVs. Moreover, the result from the workshops implies that there will be an increased number of vehicles as well as vehicle kilometers within the distribution of e-commerce packages in the future. In addition, the experts expect SDVs to be present in the year 2030, but the number of SDVs depend on multiple factors.

Future impacts of self-driving vehicles (pdf-fil, 2,2 MB, öppnas i nytt fönster)