A new report on the impacts that autonomous vehicle technology could have on the trucking industry is out. Unlike the previous study we reported on, this one examines a longer time frame – 25 years – and estimates that the technology will replace almost 300,000 truckers.
Actually, the exact number, 294,000, is much lower than some other studies have predicted. But this study, from the University of Pennsylvania, points out that the majority of job losses will come in some of the best-paid positions in trucking and may even result in lower pay for truckers as a whole.
Drivers who are at the greatest risk are those who don’t perform many specialized non-driving tasks. Interestingly, the report lists unloading freight, coupling trailers, vehicle inspection, and maintenance as examples of these “specialized” tasks.
The report expects that mostly long-haul drivers will be replaced in the early days of automation. And though those positions will be eliminated, more local drivers will need to be hired to take the goods the final mile. And that will likely mean lower pay for truckers.
“The risk of autonomous trucks is not that there won’t be enough jobs for American truckers, it’s that there won’t be enough good jobs,” reads the report.
But according to some carriers, it’s not all bad news. Brian Fielkow, the CEO of Jetco Delivery says that autonomous driving technology is actually going to attract more drivers into the business.
“The driver-assist technology, automatic breaking, roll stability, speed and space management, the ergonomics, the comfort that’s coming into new trucks, [are] going to make truck-driving fun again,” said Fielkow according to Yahoo Finance.