Predictions 2018 – 3 & 4

December 4, 2017

From Lucy McCormick

2018 will be the year of the driverless truck

We’ve all heard about driverless cars, but what about
driverless trucks? In November 2017, Tesla launched a new vehicle, the fully
electric Tesla Semi. With a range of 500 miles, the truck comes with ‘Enhanced
Autopilot’, the second generation of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology, which
includes automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings. And
where Tesla goes, others follow.

Moreover, the UK government has provided £8.1m in funding
for trials of ‘platooning’ in 2018. Platooning is the concept whereby
wirelessly connected HGVs travel in convoy, with acceleration, braking and
steering controlled by the lead vehicle. The technology is hoped to have major
benefits, notably by way of vehicles in the slipstream using less fuel.
However, there are concerns that, inter alia, platoons could make access to
motorway exits difficult for other drivers.

During testing, the drivers in the ‘non-lead’ vehicle will
be required to monitor the situation carefully. In the medium term, the hope is
that such drivers would be able to relax or complete paperwork while the front
vehicle is in charge. Looking further forward, it may ultimately be possible
for a ‘remote driver’ to handle multiple trucks from an office, leaving the
vehicles to their own devices on simpler motorway sections and taking control manually
via VR for the last few miles of the route. (See eg the work of Skarsky Robotics).

Bearing in mind that over 2.5 million people work in the UK
haulage industry, making it our fifth largest employer, the developments in
this area are worth a bit of crystal ball gazing.  

Lucy McCormick is a commercial barrister at Henderson Chambers.  She a leading expert in Connected and
Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) and the co-author of Law and Driverless Cars
(Routledge, forthcoming 2018). She tweets from @LawofDriverless.

From Andrew Haslam

I am kindly reminded by Laurence Eastham that I’ve been
doing this for a decade, a reminder that came with a copy of my first ever set
of predictions. So how did I do over 10 years? Not too bad, though I have the
benefit of that timescale and not the 12 months they were originally aimed at.

In terms of eDisclosure, law firms have improved their
in-house expertise, by either employing more experts or (like Mishcon de Reya
and Evershed Sutherland) forming formal relationships with external suppliers,
to the benefit of all their lawyers, and not just the litigators. We are
starting to see the emergence of technologically aware lawyers, who are using
this technology in other areas than litigation, again to their advantage. And
it’s not just at the larger firms. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another decade
for us to see real progress here, though I am reminded that it often takes a
generation change for new approaches to be adopted (see how long it took doctors
to embrace the stethoscope for an example), so perhaps 20 years is more

On the supplier front, there has been a steady consolidation
as the market matures and grows, to the point I doubt if there is anyone left
for the Americans to buy. Prices for the “mechanics” of processing and hosting
have dropped and will continue to do so, as the focus of offerings moves ever
further into consultancy and “managed services” (which can means pretty much
what the client wants it to mean). Also the range of services offered by third
parties has expanded so that most provide an “end-to-end” service. The push to
the cloud continues and MS Office 365 will continue on its quiet path to world
domination. Expect more services and consultancy around this as everyone wakes
up to the significant changes using O365 brings.

My 2018 prediction in this area is that the two boxes on the
left and right of the EDRM model, that of information governance at the start
and courtroom presentation at the end, will see the most changes. Clients are
increasingly understanding that having control of their own information is a
commercial necessity rather than a nice to have, a requirement that will be
accelerated once GDPR comes into force (and turbo-charged, once the first fines
are issued). In the courtroom we will see Opus 2’s domination of the area with
its Magnum product come under attack as rivals start to offer alternatives.

Unsurprisingly I didn’t have any predictions on the use of
machine learning/AI in 2008, and I don’t want to add to the over-hype in this
area, except to say, real law firms are using these products to make real
changes and obtain real efficiencies. This trend will continue and the gap
between those that are doing it, and those who are (talking about a pilot, to
evaluate the concept, or thinking about what the technologies are, and how they
might be, via a controlled test, employed), not doing anything; will increase.

Back in 2008, I predicted that “There will be a Case
Management Conference where combative and hostile litigation lawyers, trained
from birth to argue over anything and everything, will indeed have heeded CPR,
r 31.7 and have cooperated on electronic disclosure.” Sadly that one has had a
few sightings, but not enough, to the point that we are talking about changing
the rules to try to break us out of the impasse. My personal view is that if judges
imposed the current rules, we wouldn’t need to change anything, but perhaps
this is what is needed to drag us forwards.

Again, missing from my original post was anything about
England’s rugby team. We are very certainly going in the right direction, so
I’m not going to jinx progress by adding any expectations to those they have

Andrew Haslam is the eDisclosure Project Manager at Squire
Patton Boggs. These are his personal opinions and are not the opinion or policy
of his employer.