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Social and organizational effects of increasing automation in the Austrian freight transport system

Automated driving and semi-automated systems are successively being launched and deployed on the market. While the associated social and organizational effects on freight transport and transport logistics are foreseeable, their extent has so far been the subject of speculation.

In the R&D service "SozA" different automation scenarios with a time horizon up to 2045 were formulated and their social as well as transport-organizational effects presented. Essential components of the considerations were, among other things, associated opportunities and risks, potential transfer effects and interactions, the role of employees, the importance of automation for the further development of freight transport as well as the necessary framework conditions, associated potentials and driving forces of automation.

The analyses are based on a survey of the technological, legal, organizational and social background in the form of expert interviews and an in-depth literature analysis. The evaluation of the degree and future development of automation was based on the transport chain components internal logistics, first-mile transport (by truck), main transport (by rail, inland waterway or truck), last-mile transport (by truck or rail), distribution and any special cases.

Recommendations for action were identified within the expert interviews and the evaluation of the future development of automation in freight transport. These are summarized and addressed according to the ministries, interest groups and stakeholders to be involved:

Coordination of Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Social Affairs and employee representatives

Elimination of the lack of legal and normative regulations in the areas of driver responsibility, changes in drivers' rest periods, uniform definition of liability issues.

Coordination of the relevant ministries at least at European level

Uniform rules on data security/protection, alignment of technical security provisions, ensuring compatibility with the acquis, elimination of information deficits, development of training courses to ensure the necessary qualifications.

Transport companies and infrastructure operators in coordination with the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology

Cross-border coordination of infrastructure and competencies, automation of transhipment in combined freight traffic, equipping freight wagons with sensors and actuators, use of automatic vehicles in mixed traffic for traffic control, introduction of ATO Automated Train Operation, creation of migration strategies for an automatic coupling system in the railway sector and strategies in the area of cyber security.

The resulting RTI and transport policy measures should ensure and strengthen the positive impacts and reduce the identified negative impacts.


SozA was financed under the 7th invitation to tender of the program „Mobility of the Future” (Mobility of Goods) by bmvit and FFG.