Automation And The Future Of Trucking

Topic 24925 | Page 1

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Kenneth H.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello! I am currently studying to get my CDL. My question for those in the industry right now is to what degree do you think that automated driving will play a future in this industry in the next 10-20 years. I have seen videos of some companies already capable of using automation for very long haul trucking. I do think that this is something that will take some time for the infrastructure to really develop, but what would you say the odds are of me needing a career change because of automation in the 10-20 year time frame if I get started with company sponsored training in the next few months?

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
what would you say the odds are of me needing a career change because of automation in the 10-20 year time frame if I get started with company sponsored training in the next few months?

I say the chances of autonomous truck having an impact on drivers are somewhere between 0% and not a chance in hell, whichever sounds smaller.

I wrote this article about it:

Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon

The hype is just that - hype. It's all about Universities trying to raise research funds and tech start-ups looking for funding while they develop software in hopes of a gigantic payday if they get bought out by one of the major truck or auto manufacturers.

If the powers that run the world wanted to do something about moving freight faster and cheaper they would. There's a million things they could do that would work perfectly fine. They could raise the weight and length limits of trucks or build dedicated high speed freight lanes, high speed railways, autonomous truck lanes, and a million other things. The least logical way to do this would be to try to get software to operate tractor trailers on today's existing infrastructure.

I write software myself and I can tell you it's nearly impossible to make this work the way they're talking about doing it. It's a joke, to be honest.

I've always been a science and technology guy and one thing I've learned over the years is that science isn't nearly as advanced as they would like us to believe. Sure, we've done some pretty awesome stuff in some areas. But airplanes are still basically flying buses, I'm still driving a gas burning V8, we're still mowing our own lawns and vacuuming our own carpets, nutrition and exercise information is continuously being overhauled, weather forecasting is embarrassing most of the time, and the iPhone was the last major advancement in personal technology and there has been very little innovation even in those in the past 12 years.

Where are the flying cars? Why aren't robots vacuuming my carpet? Why aren't movies immersive 3D Holograms? Why hasn't virtual reality taken over our lives, or at least the video game arena? Why are computers still comprised of silicon chips running binary code? Why are we all still dying of the same diseases we were 75 years ago?

If you study science over the past 100 years you'll see that very few of the technologies that seemed to be utter certainties on the brink of taking over our lives have ever even managed to become mainstream, or even be invented at all. Let's first see if they can manage to write software capable of safely and effectively mowing our lawns while the children and the dog are playing nearby. Then maybe they can hope to someday write software that operates a tractor trailer on crowded highways full of innocent families.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Kenneth H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you! I appreciate the insight. I have definitely noticed all of the promises that technology seems to make. Even the ones that they seem to deliver often have unaccounted for drawbacks later on. I hope to spend a fair amount of time developing my career as a trucker.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Yesterday my truck panicked and started a "collision recording" for no reason there was nothing in front of me. I think it picked up the road sign but not sure, imagine how many sensors a full automated vehicle will have to have. Until they can get it decide what is and isnt a threat it will get nowhere.

Notice airplanes still have pilots and there is way less to hit in the air!

Keith A.'s Comment
member avatar

The thing I'm more curious about is if there's even a path /to/ automation, or if it is literally a pipe dream.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

I will poke the bear and take issue with Brett's statement, but at the same time agree with his conclusion.

Why aren't robots vacuuming my carpet?

We do have robotic vacuums: Roomba.

However, you can easily find on the Internet stories of people who came home to dog s**t spread all over their hard wood floors. The Roomba was not programmed to identify and avoid dog feces. Just like the experienced drivers on this forum who "have forgot more about trucking than I'll ever know," it is really hard to "download" all the information necessary to accomplish even a simple task. If you take a complex task liking trucking driving its even more difficult. One important skill that I have learned from this forum is that drivers have to expect and anticipate other drivers violating the rules of the road. I also understand that this is how self driving cars get into accidents. They drive based upon human drivers following the rules of the road.

And smeared dog crap is an inconvenience at best. 80,000 pounds of truck and trailer traveling at 60 mph is more than just an inconvenience when a computer fails to avoid a collision.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

I’m not nearly as tech savvy as Brett and almost everybody here, but I certainly agree with Brett’s comment.

All of us drivers can think of what tasks we accomplished today or any day and there is no way to have all of those duties automated in the future. The driver will never be replaced within the lifespan of any of us, probably never.

Will there be advances and changes? Yes of course. They may develop a system with cameras, servo mechanisms and a computer to back our trucks into a dock but it would be an incredible expense to equip trucks with such a system when the driver has to be sitting in the seat anyway. Consider the advancement of the Auto Shift transmission, but it still needs a human to operate it.

Gentlemen, I assure you that if your great great grandsons want to drive a truck, they will have the opportunity. I think.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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