Like Otto, the driverless startup that Uber purchased in August 2016, Embark’s technology enables trucks to drive on the highway without human input. The company began testing its truck on public roads earlier this year.
As more companies put their attention on driverless technology, the way truck deliveries are made in the future will be revolutionized. In October 2016, Otto made headlines when it successfully made its first delivery – 50,000 beers.
Should truck drivers be worried about their jobs becoming obsolete? To better understand what’s to come, it’s important to take a look at how it works.
Driverless Technology for Trucking
Otto and Embark use LIDAR (light detection and ranging) – a combination of radars, cameras and depth sensors – to enable the self-driving feature on the trucks.
This technology is designed for use solely on the highway to minimize accidents. For getting on and off the freeway, navigating local traffic, and loading and off-loading of deliveries, the driver is required to take over.
However, a lot of money is being invested in the autonomous driving technology, with the hopes that it can maneuver every condition on the road. In effect, truck drivers, “become harbor pilots, bringing the ship to port”, according to Wired.
The Future for Truck Drivers
Although driverless technology will make it possible for drivers to focus on other things while on the interstate, their jobs are in no way in danger, at least not in the near future.
There are still many hurdles until autonomous driving becomes truly autonomous. And the federal government has yet to weigh in.
One of the key issues is safety. Can driverless technology really improve safety?
With 400,000 truck accidents each year, and the majority of them blamed on human error, many people believe safety can be enhanced with these driverless trucks.
In addition to enhanced safety, other areas may be improved as well, such as operational efficiencies and trucks’ emission output.
With the shortage of truck drivers now, and an estimate of 175,000 shortage by 2024, according to the American Trucking Association, it’s no surprise that this new technology is being embraced.
What’s your take…where do you see the future of the trucking industry? How do you see the truck driving job changing? Share in the comments.