Is the Fight Against Autonomy a Losing Battle?
Self-driving trucks were once reserved for the pages of science fiction stories. The futuristic technology has become a force in the present, with development of vehicles and regulatory measures increasing over the past several years.
Prototypes are already in production, and self-driving vehicles have made successful test runs. It’s been proven that a driverless truck can make a delivery, and that the technology is on track to make these vehicles safer and more efficient as time goes on.
Tesla is already working with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to put more tests in motion soon. Platoons are already being planned, allowing a truck piloted by a human driver to lead numerous autonomous models down U.S. highways.
Things haven’t been without issue, however. There have been a few accidents involving driverless trucks. While this is enough to cause some people to dismiss the concept altogether, advocates of the new technology claim that test-stage problems are unavoidable. The pursuit of regulatory controls is designed to remedy this problem, helping the freight industry enjoy the efficiency of autonomy without such a high level of risk.
As far as regulations go, they’ve often been used as a way to address potentially disruptive changes in trucking. Given that driverless trucks have been positioned as a threat to jobs, it is easy to see why some in the freight industry are still fighting against the change.
While autonomous vehicles may end up taking some jobs, their role is more about helping carries succeed in spite of a growing driver shortage. Because of the obvious economic perks of this new tech, it is unlikely that driverless trucks will be kept off the roads for too long.
Unions and groups in trucking may expend more resources fighting the move than they would like, and the best they could probably do is postpone the change.
For the time being, carriers and drivers are better off doing what they do best. The human driver is still a major asset in trucking. Though autonomy may be inevitable at this point, it doesn’t mean the end of traditional trucking. The industry’s tendency to adapt will carry it through, even as this curious new technology looms.