Jobs and Autonomous Trucks

While we’re still light-years away from a fully autonomous transportation future, the idea of autonomous trucks has the driving industry worried for their jobs. While yes, the thought of robots taking over our jobs may be a real fear (just look at those Walmart self-checkouts and McDonald’s kiosks), the automation of semi trucks won’t be replacing jobs any time soon.

Be Not Afraid

Autonomous Tesla Semi
Automatic Semi – Credit: Tesla

While the shiny, promising trials of autonomous semis (like Tesla’s) made ripples in the transportation industry, no one has proposed a driver-less truck quite yet. Tesla’s semi is electric and semi-automated, but that doesn’t mean it won’t need a driver to navigate hazardous conditions. The “self-driving” part of the semi is really only an autopilot feature, which still requires a human at the wheel.

Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy at the American Trucking Association, doesn’t seem worried about automated trucks eliminating driving jobs at all. He said, “We frankly do not see robot trucks driving goods across the country anytime soon.”

Autonomous Semis Aren’t a Death Sentence

As with airplanes, autopilot features on semis could do much more good than bad. The assisted experience would cut down on accidents caused by distracted driving. The autopilot feature would cut out human error while allowing for human strengths. A semi, even with limited senses like sensor equipment or cameras, still needs a person at the helm. Such automated vehicles could cut down the difficulty of drivers’ jobs while helping to solve the current driver shortage.

The Takeaway

Yes, change is difficult to cope with. We never know where emerging technology will take us or how it will change the way we make money. However, one thing is for sure; drivers will continue to make the world go round, whether automated trucks take over or not. Human interaction in the transportation industry will only change, not disappear completely.

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