Do You Fear Autonomous Trucking Technology?

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ravenswood_65's Comment
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This could possibly end the jobs for many a truck driver?

My roommate, a former truck mechanic in the air force and now a Command and Control Battle Management Operations specialist in that service branch, is a high-tech nut. He is fascinated by the prospect of someday soon owning an autonomous car and made the comment to me that drivers are being replaced by technology. I had expressed my interest in driving for a living to him and he warned me that autonomous is coming.

Are any drivers here concerned about that?

Wouldn't unions be fighting it?

ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

An Autonomous car and truck are like apples and oranges. I look at the airline industry, planes can land and take off by themselves, as well as maintain altitude and flight path. Aircraft can fly autonomously today, but if you notice a pilot is still there for those just in case moments, and for those times when conditions are not ideal. When you look at Otto, they use technology already on the truck, as well as an aerial view to figure out where the truck was and make minor adjustments. Now throw in a construction zone where the lanes are not where the aerial map says they are, or a DOT Department that paints lines every blue moon, you have the makings of reading about how an 80,000 pound vehicle crashed and there were x number of fatalities. Technology has evolved, but still fails, as do backup systems, no system is perfect, and there has to be the backup plan. I have a feeling drivers will need to evolve, become trained on the systems as they will need to know how to override them, as well as what they will try to do when they take action.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
ravenswood_65's Comment
member avatar

But you don't fear human drivers will be replaced by high-tech anytime soon?

I have seen a sign posted at a major UP train yard in Roseville, CA not long ago. It said diesel-electric locomotives can drive around the yard unmanned. The sign warned of trespassing on RR property and that trains can move about unmanned. Still, I have often observed crewmen on those locomotives in that same yard as a train-watcher. They had vests and flashlights at night. They would step on and off the engines to throw switches as needed.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

But you don't fear human drivers will be replaced by high-tech anytime soon?

I have seen a sign posted at a major UP train yard in Roseville, CA not long ago. It said diesel-electric locomotives can drive around the yard unmanned. The sign warned of trespassing on RR property and that trains can move about unmanned. Still, I have often observed crewmen on those locomotives in that same yard as a train-watcher. They had vests and flashlights at night. They would step on and off the engines to throw switches as needed.

I think once you see the highways getting rails along the shoulders or tracks in the lanes to guide vehicles and maybe roofs to keep the roads dry and ice free then its time to get worried.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jim A.'s Comment
member avatar

But you don't fear human drivers will be replaced by high-tech anytime soon?

I have seen a sign posted at a major UP train yard in Roseville, CA not long ago. It said diesel-electric locomotives can drive around the yard unmanned. The sign warned of trespassing on RR property and that trains can move about unmanned. Still, I have often observed crewmen on those locomotives in that same yard as a train-watcher. They had vests and flashlights at night. They would step on and off the engines to throw switches as needed.

I live near Roseville and those signs have been up for years. I'd bet 10 or 15 yrs. It is a lot easier to program those engines to go couple to this and that, than to program a semi to watch out for the idiot watching a youtube video that just pulled right in front of you.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Whenever progress displaces current jobs, unions protest and fight, but it does them as much good as it would have done a gaslight maker to demand a ban on electricity 100 years ago.

That said, autonomous CMVs are absolutely not an issue in your career future if you're 40 years old. And probably not if you're 21.

My dad has quite a collection of mainstream science magazines. Popular Science, Science and Mechanics, Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, I read them all, from the mid 1950s forward. In the 1950s, they had serious articles, describing how we'd be driving to work in George Jetson jet cars by 1975, complete with serious scientific explanations of how it was going to happen. Well, my dad didn't fly to work in 1975, I didn't fly to work in 2015, and I can guarantee I'm not flying to the office in 2025, nor is an autotruck going to drive itself from the Port of Los Angeles to the WalMart distribution center in 2035.

If you're 21 and single and want to be a trucker, just do it. Put $1500 a month in the 401k, $5500 a year in an IRA, and invest it all in a year 2050 target fund. And if robots take your job in 30-40 years, just retire as a millionaire. I know a retired transportation worker who pretty much did that, the president killed his dream job before he was 25, so he stayed with the job he was in until he got fed up with it, then quit and rolled his 401k into an IRA and started taking $80k a year out of it while he waits to reach social security age. He has more in that IRA now than he had before he started taking distributions. (now it's one thing for me to say "stick $18000 a year in your 401k" but it's another thing to actually do it if you decide to go the wife and kids route, the guy I'm talking about with the ginormous IRA is still single and he's older than me)

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

But you don't fear human drivers will be replaced by high-tech anytime soon?

I have seen a sign posted at a major UP train yard in Roseville, CA not long ago. It said diesel-electric locomotives can drive around the yard unmanned. The sign warned of trespassing on RR property and that trains can move about unmanned. Still, I have often observed crewmen on those locomotives in that same yard as a train-watcher. They had vests and flashlights at night. They would step on and off the engines to throw switches as needed.

Will it happen some day, yes, in my lifetime, probably not. Tesla admits there should always be a human behind the wheel, even they realize the technology is not there to account for every possible scenario. Science has to be able to find a way to easily take the variables drivers run into everyday, and accurately make the decisions drivers do everyday. Artificial Intelligence, or at least the current version, can't learn on the fly, someone has to find the problem, figure out how to convert it to a binary application, then try and program in every scenario where it may encounter that problem, and take the corrective action needed. Miss 1 variable and guess what, it won't work, and it could cost lives. Try and program in variable wind gusts at a 45 degree angle. Once you find that, then you have to change the parameters, weight, trailer height, in the case of flatbeds and stepdecks, how high is the freight, what is the wind load on the cargo? That is one example, throw in a bunch of 4 wheelers who are so unpredictable.

Did Otto work, yes, but they drove it under ideal controlled conditions, they mapped the roadway out previously, paid the state to repaint the lines just weeks prior. Just think, if someone had forgotten to check the fuel, and en-route Otto needed to make a fuel stop, Otto would have failed, they did not program that in, and someone still has to dispense the product, Otto can't do it. Otto also needed a State Trooper to escort it, and no cars were allowed around it, the cars could have introduced a variable, and produced yet another failure. Technology has a long way to go, and while I think it will happen eventually, completely driverless most likely won't happen in my lifetime.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Stepdeck:

A stepdeck , also referred to as "dropdeck", is a type of flatbed trailer that has one built in step to the deck to provide the capabilities of loading higher dimensional freight on the lower deck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Aaron S's Comment
member avatar

No. trucking needs a human touch.

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Oh no, not the autonomous truck post again! Is it that time of month already? Just seems like only a few weeks ago it happened.

I have 1 thing to say: AIRCRAFT!!!

There are still pilots around. Sure they babysit the autopilot, but they are still sitting in the seats and still getting paid.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

But you don't fear human drivers will be replaced by high-tech anytime soon?

I have seen a sign posted at a major UP train yard in Roseville, CA not long ago. It said diesel-electric locomotives can drive around the yard unmanned. The sign warned of trespassing on RR property and that trains can move about unmanned. Still, I have often observed crewmen on those locomotives in that same yard as a train-watcher. They had vests and flashlights at night. They would step on and off the engines to throw switches as needed.

Those switch or shifter engines are operated on the ground through remote control by a certified operator. Far easier to perform a "set-out" from the ground than from the cab 300 feet away from the car being spotted.

🍎s and 🍊s

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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