Report Predicts Limited Impact of Autonomous Tech on Professional Drivers

August 10, 2018 at 2:52 PM

A new study on autonomous vehicles concludes the technology will displace some taxi drivers but have only a modest impact on the number of truck driver jobs over the next 10 years.

The study, Preparing the Workforce for Automated Vehicles, was sponsored by the Detroit-area American Center for Mobility (ACM). The research was led by Michigan State University with support from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Funding came in large part from Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car unit and the American Assn. of Retired Persons.

Instead of eliminating jobs, the researchers expect automated vehicles to foster broad societal changes that will result in shifts in the workplace and workforce demands. This could help create thousands of new engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity and vehicle monitoring-related jobs, according to the report.

Noting the ongoing global shortage of truck drivers, the study says automation technology will support rather than replace drivers by providing safety, efficiency and convenience benefits. For limousine and bus/transit drivers, the technology will support the personal assistance, professional service and face-to-face interaction often required of such jobs.

The report calls for new training programs to help drivers best utilize automated driving and other emerging technologies. The authors add that more research is needed to identify skillsets workers will need to interact with and facilitate and support autonomous vehicles.