With the introduction of self-driving vehicles by Google and automobile giants including Tesla and Kia, it is now time we start thinking about how automation may affect the transportation industry. While some argue that implementing ‘self-driving technology’ in trucks can be a nightmare for the truck drivers all over the world, some believe that it has the potential to save not only time but also a great deal of money and fuel.
So the question that needs to be answered at this point in time is – should we start worrying about this technology taking away jobs? And how long it will approximately take to change the entire trucking industry? And if it is a good idea to invest in such a venture? Should it be accepted and welcomed or rejected? There are so many other questions that might pop up inside your head when it comes to self-driving trucks.
Automation Can Improve the Transportation Industry
Firstly, let’s talk about how automated trucks can improve the transportation industry and whether it can be a wise option to invest in.
Driverless trucks will undoubtedly help save a significant amount of expense, mainly the labor cost. More than 75% of the amount you pay to get massive loads transported by trucks goes into the pockets of the drivers. While the drivers totally deserve it, think about how much money can be saved? Robots wouldn’t charge you a dime for all the “labor.”
You can Save Time and Money
While truck drivers can drive for no more than 11 hours per day without taking at least 8-hour break according to the law, there is little to negligible driving time restriction when it comes to robots. Therefore, this technology can help nearly double the output and save more than 50% of the total cost at the same time. Talk about time and cost efficiency!
Moreover, advanced technologies are expected to make trucks drive in a train-like manner on highways. This would not only save substantial sums on fuel due to efficient drafting but also help other vehicles on freeways to stay in their lanes. Also, some advanced safety features that would come with automated trucks would reduce the rate of accidents, hence making it significantly safer for others to drive.
Automation Can Create More Jobs
Self-driving trucks will also open new and a vast range of jobs for people in the automotive industry including engineers, mechanics, designers, IT specialists, etc. Moreover, as these trucks become commercially used, a high number of job openings is expected.
According to recent surveys carried out by some automotive companies, automated trucks would be much more environmentally friendly because automated vehicles would be designed to not only run at an optimum speed but also in a fuel-efficient manner. Therefore, there would be fewer emissions and fuel wastage. An excellent way to go green indeed!
Are There Any Possible Drawbacks?
Now that we have covered most of the “good” things automated trucks will have to offer to its respective industry as well as to the environment let’s shed some light on the possible drawbacks.
Millions of jobs, most of which were manufacturing-based, were lost to automation in the last two decades or so and only a smart percentage of those people managed to find new ones. In the US alone, nearly 1.8 million people are working as truck drivers, which means a good chunk of the economy depends on it. With the introduction of commercial automated trucks, it does not appear that things will turn out any better for truckers.
This technology would not only make millions jobless but also damage a vast range of other inter-linked businesses including all those providing services to truck drivers such as motels, highway diners, gas stations, rest stops, etc. as their presence would not make much of a difference to the robots. Furthermore, the truck driving schools spread out all over the world would only have to shut down.
Since automated trucks would be powered by computers, they might be as dangerous as efficient. Firstly, there could be some unexpected disasters in case the computer malfunctions. Experts are still working on how to control a self-driving truck if its computer doesn’t respond or stops accepting commands. Secondly, it is no big deal for tech geeks and IT experts to hack into computers and control them by overwriting their commands. Therefore, such trucks are quite vulnerable to criminals who can smartly infiltrate software.
While automated trucks are already in use by various government agencies and military, it will take time before they hit the commercial transportation industry. Yes, we have to wait before governments allow driverless 18-wheelers on highways. Therefore, the need for experienced and skilled truck drivers will not go away for quite some time. However, we must acknowledge the fact that sooner or later, these trucks will come to stay and would change the transportation industry – forever!