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28th April 2017

Driving the future of vehicle automation with W² Labs

By Chris Fenton, Managing Director of Industrial and Transport at Wincanton PLC

Much has been made of the potential autonomous vehicles in the transport sector. On-board computers may be trusted on the most straightforward motorway journeys, however it is likely that drivers will continue to hold a safety-critical role for more complicated driving and manoeuvres

We operate more than 3,400 vehicles and our 4,000 drivers are a vital company asset and instrumental in our success. Increasing the interaction between our vehicles and drivers could unlock significant supply chain efficiencies for us as an operator, as well as for our customers.

Through the W2 Labs programme we are searching for innovative start-ups who can provide solutions to this combination of driver and “intelligent” vehicle.

We already use telematics systems in our fleet to help ensure the health and safety of our drivers and the public. As technology develops there’s so much potential to do more.

We can explore re-routing deliveries using real-time traffic data; and anticipating problems with vehicles to avoid costly lay-ups and delays for customers.

We can also explore using technology to better monitor the health of our drivers.

There are opportunities for software which can check vehicle information such as fuel economy, idle times, acceleration and deceleration rates, cornering and speed. Improving efficiency and reducing emissions.

I’d also like to hear how a traditional driving role can be adapted to make it more attractive to a wider audience and help promote it as a career to reduce the shortage of drivers.

These are just some of the areas I’m looking forward to exploring through the W2 programme. The project is a fantastic opportunity for start-ups to work with a market leader and receive unrivalled mentoring. Let’s drive innovation together.