Why automation won’t make truck drivers obsolete

November 23, 2020 FTB 0 Comments

Over the next decade or so policymakers project the world will look dramatically different as advances in automation will bring fully autonomous cars and commercial vehicles to the country’s roadways. You may have heard all sorts of news about automation wiping out the trucking industry in the near future… 

Here’s why it won’t: 

Reason #1: Truck drivers do more than drive trucks. 

From checking vehicles and securing cargo,  to maintaining logs and providing customer service, truck drivers are much more than… well, truck drivers. Most of these tasks are nowhere close to being automated. 

Reason #2: Full automation of trucking is far into the future.

Most accounts of automation tend to conflate very controlled demonstrations of level 5 (full) automation, which are rare, and adoption of technologies that are largely focused on level 2 or level 3 (partial or conditional automation), which are more common.

Reason #3: There’s a legal problem 

There’s no clear path to suing a self-driving truck who hits and kills those outside of the truck. In 2016, 3,326 passenger-vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians died in large-truck crashes. (Around 80% of car-truck crashes were caused by the passenger vehicles, not the truck.)

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