New Trucking Prototype Could Herald a Driverless Future, Threaten Millions of Jobs

Job Cuts
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The Trucking Industry Will Likely Bear the Brunt of the Initial Automation Turnover

Swedish startup Einride recently unveiled its robotic trucking rig that has no steering wheel, doors, pedals, windshields, or a number of other features we expect to see on modern vehicles that are helmed by humans.

The goal of the company is to begin taking over a major transport route in Sweden by 2020 using this prototype. The first route of the system will have a capacity of up to two million pallets per year. Charging stations are also being installed along the way.

The prototype is one of the early glimpses of a future that many analysts believe is not too far off. A study found that automated trucks could end up slashing demand for truck drivers in the U.S. by 50% to 70%. That would leave over one million people looking for work in the U.S. alone.

Naturally this has caused a good bit of worry about how the U.S. will cope with such massive job losses as a result of automation. Trucking is one of the most vulnerable sectors, alongside jobs like data entry and telemarketing.

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As automation increasingly becomes less of a projection and more of a reality, politicians and business owners will have to tackle the issue of the millions of displaced workers who will be losing low-skill jobs and finding it difficult to transition into another line of work.

At this point, most projections and studies point towards a radically redefined economy due to the intrusion of automation. It’s no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” The question is, of course, how the U.S. and other economies across the world will be affected by automation and what the response will be from workers.

Sources

Managing the Transition to Driverless Road Freight Transport,” International Transport Forum, May 31, 2017.

This self-driving truck has no room for a human driver — literally,” The Verge, July 5, 2017.

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