If you work in trucking, you certainly don’t need a crystal ball to see that industry-related changes are on the horizon. Over the next decade, experts see new technologies as bringing the most radical changes experienced in trucking in the last hundred years. Key among the changes is the concept of autonomy or self-driving trucks.
Drivers, and the companies that hire and employ them are wondering what the future holds. Will self-driving trucks deliver the seismic disruption autonomy proponents promise? Or, will it end up being more like a tremor rippling through the industry; a technology that ends up being little more than “cruise control on steroids”?
If you are a truck driver, you may be feeling some anxiety right now about your long-term job security. After all, if autonomous trucks are coming, where or why would anyone need human drivers? The good news is that most experts believe only a modest number of truck driver jobs, if any, will be affected by this new technology.
Automated technology is expected to support truck drivers instead of replacing them.
At DriverSource, we feel the introduction of self-driving trucks will lead to new career opportunities in our industry and may result in an even greater need for drivers.
Automated vehicles are expected to result in a loss of car-based driving jobs such as taxicab drivers, according to researchers. However, because of the current truck driver shortage and the belief that automated technology will largely support truck drivers instead of replacing them, truck driver jobs are not likely to be replaced in large numbers. This analysis was the result of a commissioned study by the American Center for Mobility, led by Michigan State University.
Early evaluation of self-driving technology shows that it is not robust enough to deal with some of the variables commonly experienced in driving a truck. Such things as adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping, approaching stopped vehicles and negotiation hills and curves all underscore an inadequacy of the technology in being able to fully replace human drivers in the near future.
Workforce demands and shifts for drivers may change.
The study did find that over the next decade the technology may lead to “shifts in the workplace and workforce demands”, according to Shelia Cotton, MSU professor, who led the research. This could also result in thousands of new jobs in areas such as engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity, and vehicle “monitoring”.
More training will be needed.
The report points to the need for “substantial and multifaceted education and training efforts to transition the workforce and public for automated vehicles”. In the near-term, the changing technologies are expected to assist commercial drivers in safely operating trucks.
Bill D for DriverSource