Are Self-Driving Trucks Here to Take Your Job?
We’ve all been sitting angrily in traffic and started dreaming of a self-driving car, like KITT from Knight Rider. Although today’s technology isn’t quite to that level, self-driving cars are getting closer to reality. Companies like Google, Tesla and Uber have invested millions into the technology, leaving truck drivers worried about their job security. So let us be the first to tell you–don’t be! Here’s why we don’t think today’s drivers should concern themselves about self-driving trucks quite yet.
The robo-revolution is still far away.
Just as semi trucks are more regulated than passenger vehicles, self-driving trucks will face far more government scrutiny and oversight than self-driving cars. The companies currently testing self-driving trucks are doing just that–testing. They’re also testing in optimal weather and road conditions and with very short distances. It will take years of research and proof of concept before the federal government approves a widespread rollout of automated trucks.
Self-driving doesn’t mean driver-less.
The self-driving trucks being tested today are not fully autonomous. Although they can stay in their own lanes at a consistent speed, the trucks still need driver input to get on and off the highway and navigate around busy urban streets.
Some reports even say that these features will improve a driver’s quality of life on the road, similar to how autopilot features on airplanes have helped pilots without replacing them entirely. Rest assured, a fully automated semi is years away from becoming a reality, and even more years away from being commercially available.
Drivers are still in high demand.
The American Trucking Association estimates that there currently are 3.5 million drivers in the U.S., with 50,000 more needed to meet increasing shipping needs. So before any automated trucks hit the road, companies are doing everything they can to attract new drivers and service their existing customers. That’s why you see many trucking companies offering sign-on bonuses and other tactics to recruit drivers. Recruiters have seats to fill, and even if the first automated trucks roll out tomorrow, they’ll still need a driver behind the wheel.
We understand many drivers are worried about the possibility of a driverless future, but trust us when we say that it’s business as usual for the years ahead. In fact, we think there’s never been a better time to be a truck driver. All the changes in the industry today, including better pay and new truck features, are benefitting drivers and making life on the road a little bit easier.