How do you like the idea of leading a convoy of driverless trucks to their destination? That’s where the industry could be heading, if you believe the experts.
But the experts also say this: you’re not going to be put out of a job any time soon, despite the rise of autonomous vehicles.
In a new study from the American Center for Mobility (ACM), researchers from Michigan State University and Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) concluded that “only a modest number of truck driver jobs, if any, will be affected” by the driverless vehicle trend in the next 10 years.
There’s no doubting that the technology is a game-changer, but, at least in the short to medium term, it’s going to alter jobs, rather than replace them.
The convoy example we mentioned has already been trialled in the UK, with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) expected to carry out further tests of vehicle “platoons” on major roads before the end of 2018.
The idea is that by having human-driven lead vehicles, the convoy will be safer, with the driver dictating when to accelerate and when to brake. Meanwhile, the platoon lorries will be able to drive closer together than those driven exclusively by humans, which helps save on fuel costs.
Commenting on the ACM study, Christopher Poe, Assistant Director for Connected and Automated Transportation Strategy, TTI, said: “In the near-term there is great potential for these technologies to assist commercial drivers in safely operating trucks.”
It’s hard to argue against safer and cheaper journeys, isn’t it?