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Tuesday
Jun202017

Automation and the Truck Driver

Transport Topics

June 20, 2017

Automated vehicle technology is coming to trucking, but what will that mean for the truck driver?

This was a prominent topic during Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program last week featuring American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, autonomous vehicle consultant Richard Bishop and Josh Switkes, CEO of truck-platooning firm Peloton Technology.

While conversations about automation often drift toward fully autonomous trucks, that’s still decades away, Spear said.

“I think driver-assist is where we need to put our energy,” he said. “I think that’s the most reachable goal within the next few years, and it could yield tremendous benefits if it’s done right.”

Drivers who are working today will not be put out of work by automation, especially with freight volumes expected to grow and the driver shortage expected to worsen, Peloton’s Switkes said.

“Yes, over time, automation will reduce the number of drivers needed, but for the foreseeable future, that’s just going to slow down the growth of the shortage,” he said. “Eventually, it’ll reduce the driver shortage. The time in the future when there are fewer drivers needed than the amount of drivers we have today is far off.

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