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Autonomous Trucking Means Opportunity not Extinction

by Kelsey Stafford | Mar 23, 2017
Digital City

In this age, it is no longer sufficient or wise to focus on your product or service offering without considering the advancement in technology and its implications. If one wants to survive, every company must become somewhat of a tech company. The evidence of this for trucking is in the new autonomous truck technology that is in development, and some areas, in practice. This was a topic of interest at the recent Transport Topics Recruiting and Retention Conference held in Nashville, TN.

With the word autonomous comes excitement, innovation and a little fear. At Centerline, the topic of autonomous trucks is not one we wish to ignore but it doesn’t make us nervous either. When you break it down, as the speaker at the R&R conference pointed out, it may actually be a great opportunity for the role of the truck driver to evolve.

Consider this; autopilot did not replace pilots. Just as pilots are extremely necessary for the guidance, monitoring of autopilot systems and in general still control the landings and takeoffs, likewise drivers will be necessary for the first and last mile. A driver may begin to take on the role of a conductor; ensure everything is running smoothly and safely and focus more on the load they carry and its well-being. The driver could also take on dispatch and load planning responsibilities. This shift in role may also prove to be the selling point for the new millennial workforce. The appeal of a more customer representative role is attractive and promising to develop new interest in the industry.

Although advance, there are still many barriers to entry for the autonomous technology. These challenges include:

  • Infrastructure will need to be invested in and meticulously maintained.
  • The last mile will still need to be handled by the driver. Interstate yards will need to be established because they won’t be able to come into cities.
  • Technology challenges will be present, from security against cyber-crimes to creating, updating and maintaining the software.
  • Legislation and regulation will need to be determined and established.
  • Social adjustment and acceptance will need to be won over and the public will need its safety proven.
  • Insurance policies and liability will be scrutinized. New agreements must be made on whose fault an incident is; the government, the tech manufacturer, the software developer, the driver, or the company.

There is a lot to consider when introducing this new technology however progress has already been made. Remote control trucks are currently used in mines and platooning technology is being put into practice. The future is bright for drivers. Autonomous technology is presenting new opportunities for the role to evolve.

1 comment

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  1. Archie | Jul 04, 2017
    Thank you for shearing.

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