Automated Trucks Are Coming Much Sooner Than You Think

The technology may seem like an exciting one but it will cost many truck drivers their jobs, sadly.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Autonomous trucks are coming soon and they will be costing people thousands of jobs according to a new report by 60 minutes. It all may start with Starsky Robotics, a tech startup that delivered 35,000 pounds of steel with nobody behind the wheel. 


A key milestone

This trial was a key milestone because all the other companies that are conducting driverless tests made sure to have at least one human in the car during the ride. While this might sound like a fun and exciting futuristic development, it does have one group of people worried: truck drivers.

"I wasn't aware 'til I ran across one on the Florida Turnpike and that just-- it just scares me.  I can't imagine. But I didn't know anything about it," truck driver Linda Allen told 60 minutes.

The other truck drivers also interviewed by 60 minutes explained that no one in their industry talks about the new autonomous trucks, leaving them unaware of how advanced the technology has become.

Driver-free trials

Chuck Price, chief product officer at TuSimple, a privately held, global autonomous trucking firm believes that they too will be doing completely driver-free trials soon.

"We believe we'll be able to do our first driver-out demonstration runs on public highways in 2021," said Price. Price added that their new autonomous trucks can see forward over a half mile, farther than any other autonomous system in the world, and that they can run during the day, the night and even in the rain.

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The trucker monitoring TuSimple's trucks says they are far better than she could ever be. "This truck is scanning mirrors, looking 1,000 meters out. It's processing all the things that my brain could never do and it can react 15 times faster than I could," said Maureen Fitzgerald.

But not all truckers are as enthusiastic as Fitzgerald. To the many who stand to lose their jobs, the development feels like the new trucks are running them out of the road. With no safety net put in place for those that will lose their jobs, the question remains - what will happen to all these truckers?