Should I Be Scared Of Driverless Technology?

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William H.'s Comment
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It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become a truck driver and I’ll be 18 end of next 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.

Daniel 's Comment
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Do you have a link about the 2025 date you posted?

Xnihilo's Comment
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Do you have a link about the 2025 date you posted?

Not too long ago I came across an article from 2015 that said Autonomous trucks will be here in five years.

Here we are in 2021 and it didn't happen.

Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
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Howdy, William . . . and welcome to Trucking Truth~!!!

We have SOOOO many articles on 'just this' here on our site; many compiled by our own DaveW. who's a driver and special writer/contributor/compiler for our forum.

Here's some links to his posts: (In which we're all pretty sure we have nothing to worry about anytime soon! We can't even fix Covid, let alone the infrastructure that would be necessary to accommodate something so intricate!)

DaveW's posts:

Hope all goes well with your getting your CDL soon; and KNOW that we've got the tools for you to study that, as well!

Good to have you!

~ Anne ~

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
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William, the world changes and we change with it. Airplanes have been able to fly themselves for a long time. The technology is actually simpler for flying aircraft than it is for driving trucks. There's next to nothing for an airplane to collide with, yet they still have two pilots on them. Trains run on tracks and can't even get off course, yet they still have an engineer on board. Automated trucks will be a long time before being practically functional. Even when they are they will not be without a driver. Nobody is going to take on that liability.

I wouldn't give it a thought.

PackRat's Comment
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Remember "The Mayan Calendar" scare several years ago?

Remember the "Y2K" scare?

Remember "The Killer Bees" scare from the mid-1970s?

My only worry is what will we fall for next?

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Here's an article I wrote about the subject:

Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon

I happen to be a software developer and a former truck driver so I have some idea what it would take to pull off truly self-driving trucks and there is almost zero chance on Earth they'll have any noticeable impact on the industry within 15 years. That's a conservative statement. I'd be utterly shocked if it happened within 20+ years.

When states build infrastructure into the roadways to support self-driving vehicles and vehicle manufacturers integrate across-the-board technological infrastructure that allows vehicles to interact with each other, then you have the beginnings of a move toward self-driving vehicles.

When they build a truly autonomous lawnmower that can intelligently mow any yard, sight unseen, perfectly, with no pre-programming and no bumping into anything then I'll think we're within a decade of making this happen on the roadways. These "robot" vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers you see are extremely primitive and couldn't negotiate their way through a McDonald's drive-thru.

When I can get my wifi and Bluetooth to connect the first time, every time, and they both stay connected without incident, I'll think we're within 20 years of having enough software stability to pull this off.

Do not worry about self-driving trucks. They will not have an impact on the industry for decades, if ever. Like Old School said, planes are 1,000 times easier to fly autonomously than trucks would be to drive autonomously, and they've had the ability for decades, and yet there are two pilots onboard every plane. Even the unmanned drones they fly are being flown remotely by pilots.

Software is not nearly as intelligent as tech companies would like you to believe.

Banks's Comment
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Remember "The Mayan Calendar" scare several years ago?

Remember the "Y2K" scare?

Remember "The Killer Bees" scare from the mid-1970s?

My only worry is what will we fall for next?

He's 18, I don't think he remembers any of that. I feel so old rofl-2.gif rofl-3.gif

Rick S.'s Comment
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William, the world changes and we change with it. Airplanes have been able to fly themselves for a long time. The technology is actually simpler for flying aircraft than it is for driving trucks. There's next to nothing for an airplane to collide with, yet they still have two pilots on them. Trains run on tracks and can't even get off course, yet they still have an engineer on board. Automated trucks will be a long time before being practically functional. Even when they are they will not be without a driver. Nobody is going to take on that liability.

I wouldn't give it a thought.

What OS says (as usual)...

And not to dispute Brett - but I think it's going to be sooner than that.

Yards (and enclosed environments) are probably going to be automated first - they can be mapped down to the inch.

Aside from the level of automation (and AI) required in the trucks themselves, the infrastructure (roads/etc.) are going require a fair amount of automation assistive tech to make this work. There has to be SATURATION COVERAGE of connectivity (5G, satellite, etc.) - as you can only pack so much computing power into a truck - there's still going to have to be massive amounts of communication between the trucks and computers monitoring roads and traffic.

Though with miniaturization, there's more power in my Surface Pro, than the rack mounted mini-computers I was installing and servicing in '83. I remember when the IBM guys walked into the computerland I was working in, in Boca Raton FL (where the IBM mainsite for PC was). They made us lock the doors and close the blinds. They took out this huge box, with a green text monitor stolen from a System 32 terminal. It had an 8086 processor, 16K of Ram, and dual 160K single sided floppy drives. They said it was going to REVOLUTIONIZE the computer industry. We laughed. The original IBM PC. My Apple watch has 10X the computing power of that box. Then they came out with the XT - it had a 10 MEGABYTE drive - and we said - WOW, it would take YEARS to fill that thing up. My current Mac rig has 24 TERABYTES online (12 storage, 12 backup - about 6TB used).

I have little doubt that the tech is going to be online one day. It will start with closed environments (yards, ports, etc.) where there will be no possibility of "interaction" with the motoring public. It will move to some "limited interstate operations" in areas with little congestion (they're already testing this in a few states).

IT IS COMING - I think in less than the 25 that Brett says. BUT LIKE PLANES AND EVERYTHING ELSE - THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A HUMAN OPERATOR IN THE CHAIN SOMEWHERE. Either in the truck, or in a data center (like todays drone aircraft operators). The rub is - UNTIL ALL MOTOR VEHICLES ARE AUTOMATED - no matter how good the AI is - there will ALWAYS BE THE HUMAN FACTOR. Dumbasses on the roads doing UNPREDICTABLE THINGS. They're called ACCIDENTS FOR A REASON - and the cause is usually some unanticipated (and usually NEGLIGENT) act of ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

Until the HUMAN FACTOR can be removed from the roadways - there's always going to have to be a HUMAN IN THE TRUCK.

Personally - I wouldn't mind setting the autopilot for a 1,000 mile, pure interstate run - kicking back and watching a movie (or three) while the truck takes care of the rest.

But for kids today (and at 18 - you still can't drive interstate), there will always be a level of job security in this industry.

Not too long ago I came across an article from 2015 that said Autonomous trucks will be here in five years.

Here we are in 2021 and it didn't happen.

Thought them polar ice caps would be all melted by now too.

I'm more concerned (and I've voiced this) with 20+ million illegal aliens suddenly becoming legal and being able to enter the job market and compete with AMERICANS (plus the millions more that will stream in, once they get the idea that it's OK to do so). Keep in mind - almost anyone that can walk and chew gum, can be trained to get a CDL. And more competition for jobs (when there are more workers than jobs), means LOWER WAGES (especially from people that are demonstrably willing to work for less).

I FEAR IMMIGRATION MORE THAN AUTOMATION.

Happy New Year All.

Remember - Mad Max happened in 2021

Rick

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Interstate:

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

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

SHOULD YOU BE SCARED OF DRIVERLESS TECHNOLOGY......

Well, that depends. Have you seen a movie called Terminator? And is driverless technology named SKYNET?

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