Senators: Will autonomous trucks unseat drivers?


Two U.S. senators want to know what impact autonomous trucks will have on drivers and where they live.

OTTO is one of several autonomous truck technologies on the marketOTTO is one of several autonomous truck technologies on the market

Senators Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) asked the Government Accountability Office to examine autonomous truck technology and its potential to displace workers.

The chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee of the broader Senate Appropriations Committee want GAO to “examine the impact self-driving trucks will have on the two million Americans who currently work as truck drivers and the communities where they live,” according to a press release issued last week.

Three questions were identified in the letter:

1. What is known about the speed at which automated vehicle technology may be adopted by businesses to replace the current fleet of vehicles used to transport goods and deliver services? To what extent is the adoption of this technology expected to affect employment levels in related occupations?

2. What is known about differences in the skills and training that will likely be needed by those who operate and maintain vehicles that are automated versus those who operate existing vehicles using a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

3. How are federally funded employment and training programs, particularly in the regions most likely to be affected by these changes, preparing to assist professional drivers with CDLs whose jobs may be affected and other job seekers who seek training and licensure for the professional driving industry?

Interestingly, Forbes reports that truck automation is expected to put 16 million truck drivers of their cabs in China.

Here is the latest in the continuing public discussion of what emerging technologies could mean for the trucking industry and drivers: