Many truck driving companies are vying for the number one spot putting an autonomous truck on the road. Apple, Google, Uber, and Mercedes-Benz, among others are in the race to get the first driverless car on the road both practically and legally. Office and industrial workers have wondered for over 50 years if robots or other technology will replace them. They have reason to worry; just consider McDonald’s and their kiosks but few counter clerks.
While amazing technologies are rapidly emerging, people in traditional businesses are looking askance at it. Smartphones, smart homes, and even smart cities are one thing, but is smart transportation just a myth, or could it become a reality? Here is why it won’t affect truck drivers’ jobs.
Driving Isn’t All Truck Drivers Do
No truck driver just drives. His to-do list includes keeping accurate logs, getting weighed in at weigh stations, sometimes both loading and unloading the truck, customer service, and often repairing the truck in addition to many more things. Can technology change a tire or repair the refrigeration unit? Can it untangle a problem between the customer and the company from which it ordered its freight? Of course not. Only a human can do these things.
The Job Is Badly Understaffed
Truck driving companies are not subject to the two things that sink other businesses and industries: offshore manufacturing and automation. Thus, the trucking industry has grown, but there are only 1.7 million truck drivers in an industry that needs twice that number to comfortably cover the need. It would be quite costly to automate that many trucks, so drivers needn’t worry about their jobs for a long time.
If You Have It, Thank A Trucker
It hasn’t been that long ago that freight was moved by rail, plane, and container ship. They still are, but if it’s at your door, thank a truck driver. Truck driving companies are employed by industry to get their wares to the end-user. Thus, it’s not uncommon to find trucks lined up at freight depots, the city docks, and sometimes even at airports.
Many people don’t quite understand where the things they order on Amazon originate. The stamp on the white packet that says “China” came in on a ship or plane, but it was delivered to Amazon by a trucker. If someone orders something from somewhere, a truck driver will always have a job.
Automation Isn’t Human
By that, we mean that situations will arise needing human intelligence. The rig will need a human driver much like a plane needs a pilot, even if the plane is on autopilot. Weather, problematic car drivers, and trucks breaking down all need humans to navigate.