This week, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, “Daddy, What’s a Truck Driver?”
The article says that the invention of the self-driving vehicle will soon make a truck driver obsolete, putting as many as 5.4 million people in the trucking industry out of a job.
Many experts agree that it’s not a matter of if, but when.
“Over the next two decades, the driving will slowly be taken on by the machines themselves. Drones. Robots. Autonomous trucks,” the article states.
In some areas of the world, self-driving trucks are already being tested out.
In March, a convoy of self-driving trucks hit the road in Japan.
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese government-funded program, put four self-driven trucks on the road. The trucks were driven in a convoy, with each truck being kept 13 feet apart and traveling at 50 mph.
The first truck is the leader and the others are programmed to follow.
Last summer, Volvo and Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTE) put the first-ever self-driven road train of trucks and cars on the highway in Barcelona, Spain. The convoy traveled 125 miles.
In Australia, 6 self-driving Caterpillar trucks are being used to haul iron ore. The company hopes to have 45 self-driving trucks on the job soon, which would eliminate 180 driving positions.
The Caterpillar trucks are run using software that controls how the truck responds to obstacles or changes in the road. The trucks are monitored by a “technical specialist” who is in a control room miles away.
America is behind on embracing the technology, but it’s only a matter of time before self-driving trucks hit U.S. Highways. In fact, Ted Scott, director of engineering and safety policy for the American Trucking Associations, says that it’s “close to inevitable.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Chairman Bill Ford Jr. estimates that self-driving vehicles will hit roads by 2025.
Do you think these driverless trucks will replace the need for truck drivers?