Possible Self Driving/ Autonomous Trucks Opinions And Time Frame?

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Rollr 4.'s Comment
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I created an account a little while ago but haven’t used it much, I’ve looked around on here and it has been extremely useful as far as finding information on trucking company training programs and studying for my cdl. I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this but it’s been worrying me and I was wanting to get some opinions on it and see everyone’s views of it.

I’ve posted about it before on other sites and the responses seemed mixed, most said it’ll never happen or it could take decades to happen, and all the variables that would realistically keep it from happening, and others think it’ll happen within the next five years. So my question is what is everyone’s thoughts on self driving/autonomous trucks and do you think they’ll realistically happen and if so anytime soon?

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become a truck driver and I’ll be 21 end of this year so I can finally make that a reality, but I keep seeing all these news stories and articles about self driving trucks and how they hope to have them implemented on the road and doing deliveries by 2025 and it worries me because by the time I can actually get into trucking it’ll be happening.

And I’m just wondering if me and other new drivers actually have anything to worry about or if this is just some fad that will die off and can’t realistically happen yet. I know they talk about this being a solution to driver shortage but I’m just worried there won’t be any trucking jobs for me to get into or i'll get into it and not even a year in be told they don’t need me or other drivers anymore because of the self driving trucks. I know no one can say for sure if it’ll happen or not and when, but I see a lot of people who say it won’t happen base it on their lifetime and in a lot of cases that’s a huge difference than someone who wants to get into trucking in their early twenties. Sorry if this posts a bit of a mess, wasn’t sure if I should add some background info too.

Thank you to everyone who responds.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Roller 4, check out this piece that Brett wrote on the subject of Self Driving Trucks.

You can also put "Self driving trucks" in the search bar at the top of this page and find a lot of information, including several past conversations we've had on the subject.

And welcome aboard! Hang around a bit, you'll be glad you did.

Rollr 4.'s Comment
member avatar

Roller 4, check out this piece that Brett wrote on the subject of Self Driving Trucks.

You can also put "Self driving trucks" in the search bar at the top of this page and find a lot of information, including several past conversations we've had on the subject.

And welcome aboard! Hang around a bit, you'll be glad you did.

Thank you for the quick reply. I had searched a little bit about the topic on here and most of the articles I saw looked like they were written about a year ago if not a little more than a year so I was just wondering if the opinions on self driving trucks had changed since then with all the news about it lately. I guess I must’ve originally missed the post you linked though, and after giving it a read it really puts it into perspective and brings up some good points that are overlooked. It’s pretty reassuring. I think I agree with most that it won’t happen anytime soon, but just seeing how much technology has changed and advanced a part of me is worried but maybe there is no reason to be worried. And thank you for the welcome, I plan on it. I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of what this site has to offer, but so far it seems promising and has been extremely helpful.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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most of the articles I saw looked like they were written about a year ago if not a little more than a year so I was just wondering if the opinions on self driving trucks had changed since then with all the news about it lately

Heck no. Nothing has changed. All of the "news" about self-driving vehicles is little more than tech companies and universities trying to build hype to raise money for their startups or their research. They keep promising, "We're on the edge of a major breakthrough" to create a sense of urgency. They want investors with deep pockets to think that if they get in on it now and make a big investment they might just be part of the team that takes over the world with self driving vehicles. It's an investor's equivalent of striking oil or hitting the jackpot in Vegas.

Self-driving trucks are not going to have any impact on trucking for a very long time. Like I've said, trains and airplanes are going to be automated before big rigs will and that hasn't happened yet even though the technology has been there for decades.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I’m just gonna throw this out there since you’re young enough to see some of this happen in your lifetime. What about;

Drones? Think about it. Vertical lift of an entire 53’ container, straight shot to delivery and no roads to deal with. Altitude lanes could be established so as not to interfere with other air traffic. Currently, pilots sit in boxes in The US and control military drones on the other side of the globe. Why not freight drones? And why not you?

Expensive? Right now yes. Impossible? Hmm.

Some will say it can’t happen, but I grew up watching The Jetsons and we’ve got hand-held phones now and food that practically prepares itself.

Dive in, embrace technological advances and maybe you will be a future freight pilot. 😊

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Steve, I actually think drones are going to have a much larger impact on our society than self-driving vehicles. Drones make far more sense in a long list of ways. I think developing drones for transportation and freight is more feasible and realistic.

I don't think you'll see helicopter size drones carrying 53' containers, but rather an "army" of smaller drones carrying smaller loads at a time.

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

Self-driving trucks are not going to have any impact on trucking for a very long time.

I beg to differ. The fear, uncertainty and doubt created by all the hype IS having an impact - young people are ruling out driving careers as a viable option because they perceive it as a dead-end. " Oh noes! Why invest three weeks of my life to get a CDL when the trucks are just going to drive themselves?" This combined with retiring baby boomers is shrinking the pool of available drivers at a time when demand for drivers is at an all-time high. Look for massive signing bonuses, higher cpm rates and improved benefits to continue for the foreseeable future.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
young people are ruling out driving careers as a viable option because they perceive it as a dead-end

Driving careers were never looked upon as a viable career option by young people. I started in '93 and back then it was looked down upon as the lowly profession. It was that way long before that. I happened to be 21 when I started driving and no one could believe I was going to become a truck driver.

The average age back then was about the same as it is now - in the mid to upper 40's.

The effect of the baby boomers retiring is being countered by the severe decline in viable blue collar jobs that has taken place in the past 30+ years. There are very few options nowadays for a blue collar job that can actually support a family. Trucking is one of the few.

demand for drivers is at an all-time high. Look for massive signing bonuses, higher cpm rates and improved benefits to continue for the foreseeable future.

People were saying that when I started driving 25 years ago. When adjusted for inflation driver wages have been stagnant all these years, sometimes even failing to keep up with inflation.

Now over the past few months there have been a lot of companies raising their base pay and sign on bonuses because freight has been very strong while new drivers entering the industry tends to decline in the winter months. So that's a nice trend.

Don't forget, we just switched to electronic logbooks which was forecasted to be a massive crisis for the trucking industry. Of course here we are and what do you know? Doesn't seem to be a crisis.

Whenever people try to forecast the future for the trucking industry I just kinda laugh to myself and think, "Yeah, we'll see." People have been forecasting massive driver demand, massive wage increases, massive wage declines, driver strikes, unionization, a migration to team-only driving, a takeover by the railroads, a takeover by waterways or air freight, destructive changes by the Government, and a million other scenarios for the 25 years I've been in the industry and so far nothing has really changed at all. We now have electronic logbooks, GPS, and the 14 hour rule. Those are the biggest changes in trucking in 25 years. Heck, even the trucks I drove my very first year in the industry weren't all that different than today's trucks.

I enjoy these type of conversations though. They're always interesting.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

There will always be a need for a driver/operater.

Rollr 4.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

most of the articles I saw looked like they were written about a year ago if not a little more than a year so I was just wondering if the opinions on self driving trucks had changed since then with all the news about it lately

double-quotes-end.png

Heck no. Nothing has changed. All of the "news" about self-driving vehicles is little more than tech companies and universities trying to build hype to raise money for their startups or their research. They keep promising, "We're on the edge of a major breakthrough" to create a sense of urgency. They want investors with deep pockets to think that if they get in on it now and make a big investment they might just be part of the team that takes over the world with self driving vehicles. It's an investor's equivalent of striking oil or hitting the jackpot in Vegas.

Self-driving trucks are not going to have any impact on trucking for a very long time. Like I've said, trains and airplanes are going to be automated before big rigs will and that hasn't happened yet even though the technology has been there for decades.

I see what you mean, I guess that’s where the worry comes in for me. Seeing all these stories all of a sudden about it, but that makes sense that it’s all just hype to try and get backers and all that. That’s a good point I usually don’t see brought up when people debate on whether or not it’ll happen.

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