All over the world, there is a paradox occurring. Although GDPs are skyrocketing, unemployment rates are increasing as well. The cause for this unexpected outcome is automation. Since the beginning of time, machines have been used to do the work of humans as the technology became available. Since the turn of the century, this shift has been happening at a much more rapid rate than in the past, and it’s affecting all industries alike, including the trucking industry. Although the technology to manufacture self driving trucks is quickly becoming available, whether or not people are ready for this transition is a different story.
According to an article from truckingtruth.com, the approximate number of jobs potentially at risk is over 3 million, however, “The number of physical and mental tasks that the typical driver undertakes daily are generally things that an automated truck wouldn’t be doing for itself.” Truckingtruth.com is not the only source that claims that the world isn’t quite ready for automated trucks. Thegaurdian.com quoted Ray Rodriguez in saying “I don’t think a robot could do my job.” Many believe that this massive shift in the industry is still decades away. People simply might not be ready to comprehend an 18 wheeler driving down the highway at over 60 miles an hour without someone behind the wheel.
However, there is another side of the trucking automation debate that needs to be considered. Labor accounts for up to 75% of the cost of trucking transportation. Savings that large accompanied by the fact that robots don’t need to stop to eat and sleep are hard to ignore. According to TruckingTruth.com:
“Many trucking industry types appear to be going full-steam ahead on the idea of having self-driving vehicles playing a large role in the people- and goods-moving industries, with both successful and unsuccessful testing being done in major cities across the U.S. Last fall an autonomous truck traveled 120 miles on auto-pilot to deliver a truckload of beer, though it was all highway miles, with a driver riding along.”
These stats make it hard to believe that autonomous trucks are a thing of the future. Some believe that autonomous vehicles will cut down on the number of injuries and fatalities caused by accidents each year, however, one miscalculation in an autonomous vehicle’s code could result in catastrophe and the safety features like those built into all of Stadium International and Isuzu trucks that are designed to protect drivers, won’t protect those on the other end of a miscalculation.
It’s hard to take a stand with all of the hypotheticals that exist in the current situation, however, as the technology continues to develop, there will be big decisions to be made by almost everyone who has a role within the trucking industry. Until then, the engineers and mechanics at companies like Stadium International, Isuzu, and more continue to implement the newest and safest technologies in every truck they make in order to achieve the ultimate scenario that can improve efficiency and safety as long as men and women are behind the wheel.