Self Driving Trucks: Should Truck Drivers Worry about this?
Self-driving trucks have recently become news. Just last week, Embark Peterbilt trucks using modern technology drove from Los Angeles to Jacksonville alone. A new startup company called Ike has just raised $52 million in funding. TuSimple, another self-driving truck startup, just received US$95 million in additional funding, bringing its total to date to US$178 million. Uber cooperated with Volvo to deliver goods in Arizona.
When should we start worrying about losing truck jobs?
An article in the Los Angeles Times predicts that 1.7 million truck driver jobs will be lost in the next ten years. However, Chris Spear, chairman of the American Trucking Association, said that the widespread use of fully automated commercial trucks will take 20 to 25 years. So it depends on who you talk to.
Technology may be making great strides, but many celebrities will have to line up before self-driving trucks take over the road. Some things must be done first, including:
- Congress has not lifted restrictions on self-driving trucks as it did for cars. Truck testing is currently limited to a dozen states where it is allowed. There is no consistent set of rules across the country.
- Legislators must define the rules. As usual, the law supports technology. When a self-driving truck has an accident or crushes someone, who will be prosecuted? How should the regulations on working hours of truck drivers be adjusted?
- Although Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2011, not everything they learned from these tests applies to trucks. Trucks are harder to drive, bigger and harder to stop. Even the location of the sensor is different and more complicated.
After all, regulators, legislators, insurance companies, the Brotherhood of Truck Drivers, and others must agree on many things before they can transition to an autonomous fleet can occur.
A recent study concluded that self-driving cars will not start to seriously replace workers until the mid-2040s, and even so, the losses will be relatively small.
At the same time, all these technologies created to support autonomous trucks can also help human drivers. Collision avoidance, stability control, lane departure warning, and other systems help pilots rather than replace them, just as the autopilot system of an airplane supports pilots.
Manufacturers are currently working on semi-autonomous technology, in which a truck driver is still needed.For example, the truck that Tesla is developing has a driver on the steering wheel when the computer accelerates, brakes and drives. The driver is still needed during the pick-up. Autonomous trucks following a formation of leading trucks driven by a driver are another option being tested.
Since driving on a highway is easier to program than driving in a city, Embark drives autonomously on the highway, but has a driver when the truck gets off at the exit. Transportation and logistics companies can begin to develop transit stations along highways to support this long- and short-distance transportation system.
Similarly, for safety reasons, Waymo trucks still need to be driven manually, and any vehicle that reaches level 5 (it will take several years from commercial use) still needs to be driven manually in bad weather or road construction.
Change is coming
Certain changes that will come long before the advent of autonomous trucks. Are you ready for it?
First of all, if you are still using AOBRD or an automatic on-board recording device to track drivers’ hours, you have until December 2019 to switch to ELD. And since you have to spend money anyway, this might be a good time to consider upgrading your fleet management solution.
Second, the USA ELD mandate is just around the corner. Here’s everything you need to know about the ELD mandate in USA.
Finally, electric trucks are on their way. Tesla’s $ 150,000 price tag looks pretty good compared to a $ 125,000 diesel truck, especially when you factor in $ 200,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle. Startup Thor Trucks recently introduced an electric semi-trailer, which it claims is 70 percent cheaper on fuel costs and 60 percent cheaper to maintain per kilometer than a diesel truck.
Nowadays, traditional manufacturers and tech companies are racing against each other to win market share, so change will continue to come fast and furiously. As KeepTrucin continues to strengthen fleets to be more technologically advanced, keep reading this blog as we will help you stay up to date with the latest industry trends.