The newest revolution that America’s trucking industry is toying with, is that of self-driving trucks. Some, see it as a revolution, a stepping stone, and a means of safer operation. But, others, see it as a threat to their livelihood and their roadways. Automating a process that is often unpredictable, comes with a lot of questions. So, how would self-driving vehicles bring change to the way we do things? And what does that mean for a seemingly prosperous and secure job market such as trucking?
Self-Driving Trucks: A Threat To Trucking Industry?
Uber has created a self-driving truck team to smooth out the logistics. For them, they see this change as a way to partner with current trucking companies— not decrease their employees. To those working to revolutionize the industry, there was almost a sense of appall. they expressed disappointment in the fact that the trucking industry felt endangered. To them, they only sense an increase in trucking jobs in tandem with their automation approach.
Where they hope to differ…
Aldon Woodrow, the product lead for this project, says that he sees a future in which self-driving trucks are operating in between ‘transfer hubs’. By doing so, they will operate on the more generic highways and interstates, whereas when reaching the transfer hub— a human will take over and drive the more treacherous part. Now, at least to me, this seems like the smartest route to take. But, we have to wonder, how do you automate a routine that has so much variability? The trucking industry as it stands now, is dependent on adaptable drivers who can adjust to roadway changes.
Positive outcome is ultimately left to the imagination
There is no telling how the trucking industry will respond to these changes. While Uber’s truck team sees this as a means of ‘complimenting humans, not replacing them,’ there is no denying that the idea would be attractive to those powerful, decision-making figures in the field. While it might work in tandem, it also has the potential to take away plenty of jobs in the process. As Uber tracks how progress could go if the idea is nationally accepted, they can track the type of progress they’d expect. They predict that ’25,50, and 70 percent of today’s trucks being self-driven’.
To sum it all up…
Truckers are likely feeling threatened by the change. While Uber has supposedly made a conscious decision to keep humans in the equation, they are essentially cutting out the middle man. In turn, they are taking those jobs from people and giving them to computer programs. By doing so, the trucking industry might fail to adopt the change because of it’s implications. While it might work in tandem, it only will work in tandem with the portion of the trucking industry that is not facing unemployment.
Ultimately, there are good and bad aspects to any change such as this. There will be an increase in efficiency, predictability, and financial gain— if things go as planned. But, that is not to say that there are plenty of down sides. There are vocal critics, proponents, and everything in between. In the end, we’ll all just have to wait and see what comes of these changes— and what they might mean to a formerly-secure industry.