There’s no denying that being a truck driver is hard work. The pay is good, but you have put in a lot of hours and spend a lot of time on the road, away from your home and family. However, the industry could be on the verge of a major shift.
Self-Driving Trucks Not just the Concept
Several companies around the world are working on self-driving trucks that are controlled through a computer which receives data from multiple sensors. And these days, self-driving trucks are more than just a concept. Many of these companies have made substantial progress.
One is even doing depot-to-depot delivery tests in Arizona and New Mexico. The trucks used are fully automated but still supervised by a human driver for safety reasons.
And since we’re on the subject of safety, despite popular belief, AI-powered technology could actually increase safety in the trucking industry. Let’s not forget that trucks are dangerous vehicles to share the road with. Finding a lawyer for truck accident can help you get compensated for your medical bills and damages, but anyone would prefer not to be in an accident in the first place.
Although human drivers are still much better at dealing with the unexpected, the sensors and safety features that such a truck is equipped with can significantly reduce truck accidents caused by human error.
Autonomous Trucks Will Still Have Human Drivers behind the Wheel
The market for semi- and fully autonomous trucks is estimated to reach $88 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.1%. This technology could transform the trucking industry – an industry worth almost $800 billion, one of the largest revenue streams in the country and which affects every sector of the economy.
The main benefits of ATs (autonomous vehicles) are cost and efficiency. ATs will be able to operate 24 hours a day at a constant mileage rate, making them safer, more fuel efficient and saving companies millions in the process.
But this has raised concerns about job displacement. According to the American Trucking Association, there are over 3.5 million truck drivers on the road in the United States, and according to the Census Bureau, truck driving is the most common job in 29 of our states.
However, experts in the industry claim that the threat of job displacement is largely misunderstood and that for the foreseeable future, autonomous trucks will still have human drivers behind the wheel for safety reasons.
It’s not even clear whether there will be a displacement since human drivers will still need to be there to handle certain situations like speaking to authorities and mechanical problems.
The same way a plane can be put on autopilot but still requires a pilot, we can expect some progress toward autonomy in the trucking industry, but with a human co-pilot.
Autonomous Trucks: Job Creation
This technology might actually help with the industry’s current driver shortage and keep our supply chain secure. Right now, the shortage is of 60,000 drivers, but it’s expected to increase to 160,000 within the next decade. Autonomous trucks might actually improve working conditions for truck drivers while also creating new jobs.
But big changes won’t happen overnight. This technology is still in its early stages. Once big companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Costco start using ATs, that’s when the ball will begin to roll, and we’ll see more investments being made into optimizing routes and tech performance.