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Automation Affecting Your Industry
A recent White House report indicates that over half of all current trucking jobs may cease to exist as new technology is implemented. With the rise of artificial intelligence technologies in a variety of industries, many workers have had to change career paths or face possible unemployment. This difficult choice could soon be on the horizon for certain types of trucking jobs.
The recent successful deployment of unmanned fleet vehicles in Europe has shown a glimpse into an industry that can become much more economically effective by eliminating drivers. This brings to mind a study published by Oxford University in 2013 that suggested up to 47% of jobs could eventually become automated. Industry leaders have a lot to consider when looking at the possible implementation of automated trucks for freight hauling purposes.
Trucks would be able to operate nearly continuously, rather than the stricter schedule imposed upon human drivers. Additionally, an unmanned truck would erase worries about truckers who may push the limits of that schedule and drive longer than they should without resting.
Supporters of this technology tout this benefit as a huge safety improvement for both the industry and highway travel in general. It is worth mentioning, however, the difficulties with fully integrating this type of fleet into current infrastructure. Unmanned trucks would likely travel slower than the posted speed limit for fuel economy purposes (after all, one of the biggest benefits of unmanned trucks for fleet owners is increased economic efficiency) and this could create congestion on already busy highways as commuters attempt to navigate around slow-moving trucks.
Automated trucks would also likely result in lower costs for consumers. It is estimated that over 70 percent of the cost of many goods is actually due to the labor involved in transport. If drivers were eliminated, costs would go down and many people would enjoy a lower cost of living and increased quality of life as a result.
Unfortunately, one group that would not benefit is the drivers themselves. Up to 1% of America’s workforce could potentially find themselves unemployed in the coming years. The report released by the White House mentions the possibility of several programs to help displaced drivers. Suggestions include making training available to former drivers that may help them transition into a new career field, and possibly simply giving a lump sum of money to offset the financial burden of sudden unemployment.
Possible answers to infrastructure concerns are special lanes for fleet vehicles, or possibly even separate roads. Any type of response to unmanned trucks on the roads that involves adding new lanes of travel, new regulations etc will likely take a substantial amount of time to reach fruition due to the time it would take for changes to current infrastructure to be approved and the necessary construction carried out.
Make no mistake, automation does pose a real threat to the truck driving industry. However, that threat will likely not be an issue for quite a while. The technology is clearly impressive but still rather new.
Much like Google’s experiments with driverless cars, more research still has to be done before unmanned trucks become a commonplace solution for hauling freight. For those in the industry, keep an eye on the horizon; change is coming. If this sounds like the career for you, visit Drive Armellini.