Predictions 2018 – 3 & 4

Soften the Monday morning blues by opening two doors in the Predictions 2018 advent calendar. Contributions from predictions debutant Lucy McCormick and old-hand Andrew Haslam

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 realistic.

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 themselves.

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.

Published: 2017-12-04T10:00:00

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