Self Driving Truck Concerns

Topic 30816 | Page 1

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Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

So I don't know if this has been beaten to death around here, but what is the general consensus on computers taking over trucking? I ask because I am well on my way to getting a CDL and really want to get into this world. However, there seems to be a ton of belief that truck drivers are going to become obsolete in the near future. Thoughts? I would like to get at least a decade or two out of trucking before I hang my hat.

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.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

You can relax. Mass replacements of the current type of semi needing a driver is a long way off. A very complex and expensive change over. And, yes, this has been previously discussed here and you might be able to search and pull up those comments.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
there seems to be a ton of belief that truck drivers are going to become obsolete in the near future.

Hey Drew, where is it that you are seeing or hearing this from? Is it the media or news outlets? Could it be family or friends who are trying to convince you this is a bad decision? Examine where or who it comes from and then ask yourself what authority or knowledge they really have concerning this career. I'll bet you they are so far removed from the realities of it that they couldn't even give you an accurate guess at how many wheels are on an eighteen wheeler!

I am seeing a lot of people concerned about starting a trucking career lately because they think driver-less trucks will soon be taking over our interstates and consequently killing the job market. I’ve been hearing these same reports for twenty years now. I guess we will still be hearing them for the next 40 years. We are nowhere nearer today than we were 20 years ago.

About five years ago there were television programs declaring that driver-less trucks would be taking over truck driving jobs within two years. There is a big scam going on within the tech industries that is driven by greed. If you can convince people you are on the cusp of something really big, then you can get them to open their bank accounts and invest lots of money with you. That’s the scam. Everything about the autonomous truck craze is designed to raise money now for something nobody has a clue how to accomplish.

We actually have driver-less trucks already. They can work fairly well within a confined environment where we control the elements and factors they will be dealing with. That is the problem. We can’t control their environment nationwide. We could accomplish this task if we could afford an entirely new nationwide infrastructure designed solely for big trucks. It seems we can’t even come up with enough money to properly maintain the infamous pothole riddled George Washington Bridge. Everyone is focused on creating self driving trucks to work within our existing infrastructure. That approach will never work. It will always yield a vehicle that still needs a driver on board.

We currently have all kinds of crash mitigation technology in the trucks we are driving. Most of it is total garbage. It is so unreliable that it causes more problems than it does solutions. I’ve had my truck slam on the brakes because I passed under an overpass. Just a shadow in the road will sometimes trigger the forward crash mitigation system to activate the brakes as if there were an emergency. Sensors are only sensing possible dangers, they do not process thoughts and make judgments. Those are uniquely human qualities. Sensors covered in ice and snow basically shut down and stop working. I wish you could see some of the incredibly risky road conditions I have successfully navigated. We sometimes face nightmarish conditions. Humans can handle it, and actually do it safely.

We have had self flying planes for years now. Even under the power of auto-pilot we still have two pilots on board our commercial airliners. We have trains that run on tracks and could not possibly get off course, yet they still have engineers on board. We can put a rover on far away planets like Mars, and have it operating a mission there without a human being present. The reason that’s possible is because it is a far easier task than what we are attempting with autonomous trucks.

The transportation industry is not confined to its own separate environment. We are side by side with minivans full of small children. We are facing ever changing conditions moment by moment. It is much easier to fly an aircraft on auto-pilot than it is to drive an 80,000 pound vehicle under the same technology. There are so many difficulties when on the ground surrounded by other vehicles and variables. It becomes exponentially more complicated.

Do not concern yourself over self-driving trucks taking your career away from you. It is not happening now, and will not be happening in any near future I can see. The complexities of the trucking world are proving to be a great challenge to technology. Even the autonomous trucks going through various levels of beta testing generally have two drivers on board, and a convoy of other vehicles escorting them. Ease your mind of this concern. You are still needed out here. That demand will continue on into days of incredible technology advances.

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Drew, here's a link to a great article that Brett wrote back in 2017. I was trying to find it and attach it with that last post, but for some reason I couldn't seem to locate it. I kept looking after I finished and I finally came up with it.

Everything he said back then is still true today.

Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Soon

Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys. And no, my family and friends think trucking is a great career path for me. I currently drive for AAA Washington as a Wheel lift / Hino Flatbed / Service truck operator and love being the "captain of my own ship" as opposed to dealing with co-workers and people on a large scale. I am moving from Washington to Idaho and this nessitates a career switch as AAA does not have a dedicated fleet in Nampa. A ton of jobs I see listed are for CDL drivers. So, naturally, I went down this rabbit hole of trucking and watching YouTube videos of OTR drivers and their experiences. I keep seeing this idea of self aware trucks popping up so I figured I would ask the experts. Nothing is going to deter me from getting into this field. My absolute favorite thing to do is long haul towing. Maybe I am just that anti-social or what have you, but I enjoy hitting the road. I just wanted assurance that I will have a job in ten years or so, but I digress. You have all been extremely helpful. Thank you!

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

CNG was going to replace diesel.

Solar and wind would replace coal fired power plants.

Major carriers would swallow up all the owner/operators.

Computers would make everything paperless.

Autonomous trucks will be "The Thing" in the distant future, but we're nowhere near that point yet. I think anyone could begin driving now at age 25, retire at 55, and still be safe from machine replacement.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hell, they cant even get automatic toilets and sinks to work worth a damn.

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