Trucking companies push back against fully autonomous vehicles

Dive Brief:

  • The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security recently stated its opposition to fully automated trucks, claiming drivers should not be worried about job loss given their importance to accountability, Overdrive reported last week.
  • The organization represents various major trucking companies, including J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation and KLLM Transportation, among others.
  • The companies said they support the technology behind automated trucking, but draws the line at an unmanned vehicle. The statement insists without drivers, the supply chain will be adversely affected as drivers help handle extreme weather changes, emergencies, detours, and other potential disruptions​.

Dive Insight:

While truckers themselves face great uncertainty as talk about driverless trucks grows ever more common, opposition from various major trucking companies shows full adoption is still years away — at best — from becoming reality.

Trucking companies, like most businesses, are hesitant to put all their eggs in one autonomous basket. A look at the slow adoption of electronic logging devices, which were developed at least two decades ago but faced heavy industry opposition to mandated adoption, is a case in point.

As a result, a change to driverless vehicles will occur gradually, if at all. Truckers, after all, are not just operators but also cargo monitors and a key point of communication for logistics providers. In addition, concerns remain over the safety of fully autonomous vehicles on the road. Despite these concerns, however, the startup battlefield to develop the technology is ramping up as new companies and legal challenges continue to emerge. Some, like Uber's Otto have pledged to keep drivers in the cab.

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Filed Under: Regulation Technology
Top image credit: Wikimedia