The Truth About Self-Driving Trucks
While some may believe that the only skill required to be a truck driver is the ability to drive for long periods of time, that is not the case. Rather, being a successful truck driver requires the ability to be a self-starter and work independently, great customer service skills, basic car mechanic skills, stress management, as well as the ability to drive in a vast array of unique physical and social environments. Therefore, no matter how great automated cars may be, they will always pale in comparison to living, breathing truck drivers.
While we have been led to believe that the creation of self-driving trucks can only mean a loss of jobs for truck drivers, some experts suggest that the opposite may actually be true. In fact, according to research conducted by the well-known drive sharing conglomerate, Uber, the mass use of self-driving trucks will likely create an abundance of jobs in the trucking industry. Indeed, while early prototypes have been driving from port to port, experts predict that this will soon be a thing of the past. This is because driving on the highway is far less complex than navigating unique local terrains. For the most part, truck driving on the highway consist of mostly driving in a straight line (with the occasional twist and turn), and staying above and below certain speeds.
However, when it comes to driving in local environments, things can be quite tricky. No two towns are built exactly alike. As it stands, we still see the occasional accident in which a truck driver overestimated the height of a bridge, only to have an accident or end up stuck under the bridge. Issues like this would only increase if we allow self-driving trucks to drive from one port to another. Studies suggest that self-driving trucks will complement the human aspects of these jobs rather than eliminating them altogether. In general, it is believed that autonomous trucks will be used to handle the majority of the highway driving, while human drivers would take over to navigate through complex areas, ensure the loads are properly handled, etc. So, there is no real reason to believe that self-driving trucks are a threat to the truck driving industry.
Positive Implications of Self-Driving Cars
Moreover, in addition to the fact that computers lack the human skills necessary to handle truck driving in its totality, the use of these autonomous vehicles will likely have a positive affect on the industry as a whole. In particular, since self driving cars will presumably be much more efficient than cars driven by humans, this will result in a reduce in operational and maintenance costs. This, in turn, will drive down the cost of freight, which would ultimately stimulate demand and lead to more business for everyone.
Overall, although self-driving trucks are the future of truck driving, so are the truck drivers themselves. Although the role human drivers play in the process may be altered, there will still be plenty of jobs for those who have chosen to make a career in this industry.