Advances in technology are incredible, and it seems like every time we turn around there is a cool new gadget that will do something for us to make life easier. Alexa will be your personal DJ, your phone will monitor your health, or your self-driving car will take you to work. And it seems like self-driving is the futuristic tech most people are most excited about, perhaps because it means getting more done (or more sleep) on the way to work. But what about the trucking industry? Could self-driving trucks be a thing in our near future?
Not the Near Future
The reality is that self-driving technology is still a ways out for the most part, and it will be implemented in smaller personal vehicles long before it is trustworthy enough for commercial trucking. The companies that are testing the concepts still have years of testing ahead of them. They’re currently testing on short trips (not long hauls) and in optimal conditions. But we don’t live in optimal conditions so they will have to test a lot more before they can satisfy safety concerns. And even after all that, they will have to go through an approval process with the federal government, which is not an insignificant amount of time.
While the dream of turning on your self-driving car and leaning back to finish your beauty sleep is nice, it really is just a dream, and this will be especially true for trucks. The trucks being tested today still require driver input, especially in urban areas and when entering or exiting the highway. In fact, the systems today do little more than stay in their lanes and maintain a constant speed. They still require drivers to make sure their operation is safe.
As a truck driver, you have enough on your mind that you don’t need to worry about robots taking your job. Will it happen some day in the future? Yes, it probably will, as we move towards increased automation in every aspect of society. But that day is not today, tomorrow, or even next year. And in the meantime, trucking is still an in-demand field and career. Many companies are offering sign-on bonuses to attract new drivers just to meet the needs of their existing customers because we have so much need for truckers.