The Driverless Truck Is Coming, And It’s Going To Automate Millions Of Jobs

from TechCrunch

A convoy of self-driving trucks recently drove across Europe and arrived at the Port of Rotterdam. No technology will automate away more jobs — or drive more economic efficiency — than the driverless truck.

Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks.

Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.

And the savings become even more significant when you account for fuel efficiency gains. The optimal cruising speed from a fuel efficiency standpoint is around 45 miles per hour, whereas truckers who are paid by the mile drive much faster. Further fuel efficiencies will be had as the self-driving fleets adopt platooning technologies, like those from Peloton Technology, allowing trucks to draft behind one another in highway trains.

More here.

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  1. As a supply chain major myself, the main focus in all of my classes and the real world problems we look into all involve trying to reduce costs in any possible way. When looking at costs throughout the supply chain, transportation is by far the leading cost. As stated in the article, most of this is from the labor associated with transportation in trucks, as you have to take into account the fact that the driver can only operate for eleven hours at a time, with a mandatory eight hour break in between drives. More often that not, these breaks can last longer than that, and problems can happen along the drive, which decreases the efficiency of transportation and the logistics aspects and can cost companies millions of dollars. This idea of driverless truck transportation has potential to be groundbreaking, change the supply chain drastically, while all benefitting the consumer. Despite the immediate costs up-front for this massive technology, over time this massive decrease in transportation costs per trip is very exciting and could change the supply chain game forever.

    However, there are a couple of concerns that this article brings up and some other issues not directly stated in the article. First off, the direct effect driverless trucking has on employment is slightly alarming. Trucking makes up about 1% of the entire workforce and moving these people out will make a very poor impact on those people and their families. Some companies have even adopted programs where they higher two truckers to alternate driving so no stops have to be taken, and completely eliminating this would not be ideal. I understand that rolling out this project would take a while to change the trucks, but taking away over 1.6 million jobs seems like a slight issue, and I am not sure what alternative these truck drivers could do after being laid off. Other issues that aren’t directly stated in this article include all of the legal issues driverless trucking could face if an accident could happen or some kind of robbery taking place, since that is a big issue with transportation. Also, what happens if the technology fails, and how easy would it be to get to these trucks to fix them. There are a lot of big issues that need to be addressed and properly attacked, but the idea of driverless trucking could be a huge advancement in transportation for companies.

  2. Technology is always changing. This article explains how technology has been taken to a whole other level. In Europe, driverless trucks made its way across and ended up in the Port of Rotterdam. This statement seems completely mind-blowing and it is crazy to think how far we have come in society to get to this point. It really does baffle me just thinking that it is even possible that driverless trucks and cars exist. It also is sort of scary to think just how much of society is being taken over by technology. As listed in the article, driverless trucks serve a plethora or benefits to society. Fuel efficiency, lower prices of goods, and a higher standard of living all seem like amazing benefits to me. The article even listed that this new innovation could be a safety benefit to truck drivers and other drivers as well. Although this all sounds amazing, nothing is ever perfect. With all the good things listed there has to be some negative effects as well. Since technology is always improving, it has been taking away a lot of manual jobs for people. If things are able to be digitalized, it will. With this digitalization many have lost out of a job. If driverless trucks made its way to America, 1 percent of the workforce will be out of a job according to the article. Not only would truck drivers be affected, but all of the businesses that cater to these drivers when they are on the road will also be affected and at a loss for business. Although there seem to be many benefits, I believe that currently the negatives outweigh the positives in this situation. There would be too many people and families out of a job and it would have an impact on the economy. Eventually, it seems like every job will be taken over by A.I. When this happens, what will we all do? What jobs will there be left that a robot or computer cannot do?

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