Automation, Elon Musk, & Self-Driving Trucks

Topic 18122 | Page 1

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Bob O.'s Comment
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How much longer will the Elon Musk & Automation trade be around?

BillTheSlink's Comment
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How much longer will this trade be around?

Actually we just had a discussion on this. It will be around quite far into the future. Self driving car technology isn't going to effect trucking to any degree from anything I have studied. There are far too many manual tasks that must be performed on a truck that the situations you may encounter and have to deal with are probably in the tens of thousands. Self driving cars/trucks cannot do anything like beat the ice off trailer drums with a hammer when you're going through Wyoming in the winter and it's 25 degrees below zero. If you're actually talking about artificial intelligence, which self driving cars are not artificial intelligence, when that does come, and it will be in its infancy in just a few years, when it is developed over decades eventually it will be the end of trucking and most other occupations. To be clear though we are talking about artificial intelligence and not just powerful computers with fancy gadgets like radar hooked up to them. Artificial intelligence will actually be "thinking machines" which actually learn from experience, can make complex decisions and not just "if that then this" from a program, and when it comes the thinking machines will actually be able to design things and make more of them that are better than themselves. We are right now on the cusp of that technology. NPR just did a story where they demonstrated several computers which did amazing things. One composed original symphonies you could not tell were created by anything but a musical genius human; and another was actually being used by the Associated Press to write stories from a very bare bones list of short facts. The later is actually doing more work for the AP all the time and it is effecting employment levels.

The thing is though that even when artificial intelligence does come it will be many, many years before they are able to develop a fully automated truck. There are just way too many things that have to be done by the driver. Truck driving isn't just driving the truck. If that was all it was it would be over in a year or two with the driverless car tech. Many, many other driving jobs will be lost, however, and very soon. The government estimates three million driving jobs will be slashed with in the next few years; however, it will be stuff like taxies, limos, Uber, etc.

Rick S.'s Comment
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For awhile.

This ain't Star Trek YET.

It will be likely a decade or more where a driver will still have to be IN THE TRUCK, even if it does most of the driving itself (at least on the interstates).

Kick back, stream a movie - get paid to let the truck drive.

Hmmmmm.

Rick

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Tractor Man's Comment
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Kick back, stream a movie - get paid to let the truck drive.

I won't be that guy! I value my life more than that. All it will take is ONE catastrophic accident, and there will be one, to put the idea of a "Self Driving 40 Ton Death Machine" in the scrap heap. The only way it could possibly happen is Dedicated roadways for Trucks only, isolated from normal automobile traffic. Right now we can't even maintain or build the roads we have or need. Keep on Truckin' Guys and Gals, your job is safe!

smile.gif

G-Town's Comment
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I still believe (as do others) the biggest, near-term threat to the number of available truck driving jobs are drones. This is a likely scenario in package delivery; UPS & FedEx, possibly USPS. If Amazon has their way, eventually they can drastically reduce the amount of trucking from DC to consumer with a fleet of drones delivering lighter-weight packages and parcels. Of course this will create a whole other set of problems, but I believe it's only a matter of time until they become a competitive threat in a few select segments of the trucking industry.

In a decade or more, autonomous trucks can eventually supplement OTR drivers, however like commercial airline pilots, a human will be needed to "land" the load so to speak. In addition, local deliveries of food, beverage, building supplies, aggregates, and fuel will likely remain as they do now for a long time, with a fully engaged driver. If this technology becomes pervasive, our job will definitely be different, more like a steward of the freight movement with direct intervention occurring only when there is a problem or driving off the designated Interstate lanes. Even so, has it occurred to anyone; computer hardware, wireless communications and software are all imperfect and at times fail? The price-tag and weight of triple-redundancy, automated fail-over is very high. A human driver will likely provide the last resort back-up system for any autonomous system. Try to keep this in perspective. Again, think "commercial airline" pilot.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Rick S.'s Comment
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I won't be that guy! I value my life more than that. All it will take is ONE catastrophic accident, and there will be one, to put the idea of a "Self Driving 40 Ton Death Machine" in the scrap heap. The only way it could possibly happen is Dedicated roadways for Trucks only, isolated from normal automobile traffic. Right now we can't even maintain or build the roads we have or need. Keep on Truckin' Guys and Gals, your job is safe!

Already have those - they're called RAILROADS. And even with the level of automation there - still requires an engineer to be present.

Rick

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

I won't be that guy! I value my life more than that. All it will take is ONE catastrophic accident, and there will be one, to put the idea of a "Self Driving 40 Ton Death Machine" in the scrap heap. The only way it could possibly happen is Dedicated roadways for Trucks only, isolated from normal automobile traffic. Right now we can't even maintain or build the roads we have or need. Keep on Truckin' Guys and Gals, your job is safe!

double-quotes-end.png

Already have those - they're called RAILROADS. And even with the level of automation there - still requires an engineer to be present.

Rick

...and also a conductor on the cab of freight trains.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

Already have those - they're called RAILROADS. And even with the level of automation there - still requires an engineer to be present.

Case closed!

smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

BTW. Heard recently that RR"s are losing container freight to Trucking. I'm sure Rick can find the info on that. Thanks Rick!

BillTheSlink's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Kick back, stream a movie - get paid to let the truck drive.

double-quotes-end.png

I won't be that guy! I value my life more than that. All it will take is ONE catastrophic accident, and there will be one, to put the idea of a "Self Driving 40 Ton Death Machine" in the scrap heap. The only way it could possibly happen is Dedicated roadways for Trucks only, isolated from normal automobile traffic. Right now we can't even maintain or build the roads we have or need. Keep on Truckin' Guys and Gals, your job is safe!

smile.gif

You have to remember it doesn't have to be better than a human driver, only as good as a human driver. There are numerous catastrophic truck driver caused accidents per year. One failure isn't going to end the automation trend. There are airplane crashes every year and some are quite horrific, yet the public is reassured air is the safest mode of transportation and on they fly. Google already has driverless cars that have driven more miles than the members of the general public will drive in a whole lifetime without a single accident. One horrific accident by a human driver one day and the cry will go up, "Why are meat bags still driving eight ton death machines when we have safer technology?" That's when human driving will end, but it will still take a person on the truck.

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