Study Says Autonomous Vehicles Will Not Replace Truck Drivers
Despite concerns from the global trucking sector that automation will replace most if not all truck drivers in the future, a recent study reasoned that this is not going to happen, and if it did, only a modest number of truck driver jobs will be affected.
The study, which covers the next 10 years of the burgeoning autonomous vehicle landscape, was commissioned by Ypsilanti Township’s American Center for Mobility (ACM), initiated by Michigan State University and supported by Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
“Automated vehicle technology could incorrectly be viewed as a change that will eliminate driving jobs,” said Shelia Cotten, a professor with the MSU Foundation who led the research. “However, the more nuanced assessment is that over the next decade, the innovation will foster broader societal changes resulting in shifts in the workplace and workforce demands.”
“Additionally, this level of advanced technology has the potential to lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in the engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity, and vehicle monitoring areas. Based on data collected from industry experts during the study, there is already a significant demand in several of these areas related to autonomous vehicles,” Cotten added in the press release for the study.
‘Truck platooning,’ a truck transport method where a human-driven lead truck hauls two or more driverless trucks in a convoy using connected and autonomous technology, is expected to gain wide practice in the trucking industry as the technology evolves. This will create more support jobs, the study says.
The study emphasizes the need to educate and train stakeholders to facilitate the rapid changes that autonomy brings to the trucking industry.
“In the near-term there is great potential for these technologies to assist commercial drivers in safely operating trucks,” said Christopher Poe, assistant director for Connected and Automated Transportation Strategy with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “Longer-term it will be important to define, develop, and deliver targeted training for the workforce.”
“In the near-term there is great potential for these technologies to assist commercial drivers in safely operating trucks. Longer-term it will be important to define, develop, and deliver targeted training for the workforce,” Poe said in the study’s press release.
Although the study concurs that truckers are pretty much safe with their jobs, they couldn’t say the same for taxi drivers. The study notes that by the end of the 2020s when autonomous vehicles have become widely distributed, a loss in passenger car-based driving jobs, such as taxicab drivers, is an eventuality.