What if… automated trucking takes over?

What if… automated trucking takes over?

Now that we are all familiar with Google’s driverless car initiative, and the buzz about a driverless trucking future, it’s not too hard to imagine how this will affect the future of the transportation industry. Is it time to freak out about robots and computers taking away trucking jobs? Will there be a day when all driving jobs are obsolete? How soon could this shift to automated trucking happen? There are so many questions we want answered about self-driving trucking, not only because we like knowing what the future is gonna look like, but our careers depend on it.

Autonomous Trucking won't be here soon

First of all, relax. The need for quality drivers is not going to go away soon. In fact, in 2014, the industry was short 38,000 drivers, according to a report by the American Trucking Association. The same report states shortly after offering this data that ‘If the current trend holds, the shortage may balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024.’ Think about how many times you have looked online and found there were ZERO trucking jobs available in your area. It has probably never happened. And with this much catching up to do in regards to drivers on the road, the technology and implementation required to transform the industry couldn’t happen overnight. You think there are strict regulations on trucks with drivers? Just wait till the DOT starts overseeing driverless 18-wheelers rolling down the highway.

But that doesn't mean you should hold your breath

But at the same time, a shift – or we should say transition is coming. In 2015, an article published by Forbes offered this insight: ‘Research and development is much further along in the automation of trucking than in freight rail because trucking is more labor intensive and the economic benefits of automation greater.’ The article also mentions how automation could be the key in making up for the driver shortfall we mentioned. This is especially true for cross-country routes that are harder to find drivers to commit to. Another article that provides a bit gloomier forecast for truckers’ claims driverless trucks will eat away at millions of jobs for multiple reasons. One, you don’t have to pay robots, as we’ve discussed. But also, automated cars won’t have the sleep requirements that human drivers do. And this will be seen as a way to save exponentially on shipping goods.

Self Driving Vehicles are like the Internet

Remember when we thought the Internet was really cool in the 90’s and then we were told the military has been playing with it for decades? That’s probably how this whole automated trucking industry thing is going to go down. Automated trucks are already in use by military branches in the US and Europe, while Australia and Chile are testing them in their mining industries. Using military facilities and private company property offers a safer place for driverless cars to be tested.

It will be a while before self-driving trucks over our public roads. First of all, as driverless cars appear in our lives, it will likely start with a sprinkle. First, that Uber you just ordered may show up without a driver. Or that really rich friend you went to high school with will brag about their new driverless Google car on your Facebook feed. Then, some auto manufacturer will make one for everyday folks, such as a driverless minivan so mom and dad can finally discipline the kids without almost causing ten accidents.

Although we don’t know what the impact of driverless transportation will be for the industry, we think it will be a long time before the problem of driver shortages are over. Do you have information or an update about self-driving truck news and how it may affect the industry, especially in regards to employment? If so, please let us know so we can always pass on the latest information to our readers.