Automated Trucks & the Future of Truck Drivers

You can’t read much about the Transportation industry these days without coming across many articles on the topic of automated trucks.

Automated trucking is one of the major technological advancements in the trucking industry that has everyone on edge. When we think automation we think self-driving trucks that are going to take away all of our jobs and fly around like the cars in Back to the Future. The truth is, the industry is much further away from that idea than we think.

While many companies are working on self-driving trucks as we speak (Uber, Amazon, and Daimler, just to name a few) we are far away from a world in which all of our deliveries are made by trucks without drivers.

SAE’s 6 Levels of Driving Automation

SAE International has outlined 6 different levels of driving automation. All vehicles fall somewhere within these 6 levels.

automated trucks

As stated above, most cars and trucks on our roads today are at LEVEL 0. This means that they are not automated and require a driver to handle all aspects of driving.

Even Daimler’s self-driving semi truck lists Daimler’s automated truck at a LEVEL 3. This means that while the vehicle can handle steering, throttle, and braking on certain roadways there must still be a driver in the truck to intervene at any moment.

Based on the information about automated trucks to come out of the Transportation industry in recent years it seems like this level of automation will likely be the most we see for some time. As of right now there are no transport trucks at LEVEL 5 (full automation) which is the point of not needing a driver in the truck.

So while automated trucks have the potential to fix many of the trucking industry’s major issues (see: driver shortage, safety concerns, and fuel costs) drivers can rest assured knowing that for the foreseeable future they still have a place in the cab.

Sources:

http://machinedesign.com/blog/sae-s-6-levels-self-driving-cars

http://templatelab.com/automated-driving/

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/10/13/497834498/for-the-long-haul-self-driving-trucks-may-pave-the-way-before-cars