Report: Trucking is not suited for full automation
- Analysts have long been predicting the demise of trucking jobs with the correspondent rise of automated trucking, but trucking may not be suited to automation at all, The Brookings Institution wrote in a recent analysis.
- The Department of Labor does not rate trucking as a repetitive task, automatable field. In fact, trucking scores lower than receptionists, office clerks, and cashiers in terms of redundant actions. After all, truckers are rarely just driving; they must inspect freight loads, repair equipment, make deliveries among other complex chores.
- While it remains likely that automated trucks will hit the roads within the next five years, it's also true that a variety of material moving and inspecting positions could appear as well, in addition to some type of roving truck repair jobs.
Much has been made about the coming job extinction for truckers, with experts weighing in on both sides of the issue. How likely is full automation, though? Will driver positions slowly die off as automation improves, or are these just technology fantasies?
Skeptics argue truckers' value lies far beyond the driving, as the added services and relationships provide surety to deliveries. Proponents of automation, however, say they are not trying to replace the driver, but free labor up to other more important tasks during trips.
Even the White House has weighed in on the conundrum. As of December 2016, it was monitoring the proliferation of driverless vehicles, intending to take quick action to reintegrate drivers into comparably-paying positions. Though noting the loss of jobs may be inevitable, it recommended that both government and the trucking industry itself should undertake retraining efforts to minimize damage to drivers.
The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security opposes the very existence of driverless trucks. They believe the supply chain will be negatively impacted, as automation will be unable to cope with sudden changes, like extreme weather conditions, emergencies, detours, and other potential disruptions.
Regardless, self-driving truck startups continue to line up investors and partners in Silicon Valley. As they continue their research, only time will tell whether the technology will prove a pipe dream, or true threat to truckers' jobs.
- Brookings Automated trucking’s rapid rise overlooks the need for skilled labor
- Supply Chain Dive What will happen to truck drivers if automation takes hold?
- Supply Chain Dive Trucking companies push back against fully autonomous vehicles
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