Autonomous driving engineers are working on self-driving trucks to transport long-distance freight, which could replace nearly 500,000 jobs.
A new study from the University of Michigan claims robotic trucks could be created in the future and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.
It is thought the robotic trucks could take on interstate runs with no complexity aside from a slow curve or an E-Z pass.
One hurdle is the infrastructure, which means a short trip from a factory or distribution center to the interstate – which is far more complicated than several hundred miles once they are on the interstate.
It could be the case a human driver does the tricky bit and the cargo loading before the robot does the driving, with the truck going back under human control for the delivery.
The university’s findings say the new techology could replace about 90 percent of human driving jobs in US long haul driving, around 500,000 jobs.
Aniruddh Mohan, a Ph.D. candidate in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and a co-author of the stud,y said: “When we talked to truck drivers. Literally every one said, ‘Yeah, this part of the job can be automated.
“We thought they would be a bit more dubious.”
The problems automated systems still face is how they would deal with bad weather.
There are also several states where there is no regulation over the vehicles and more concerns over infrastructre.
The study shows if trucking firms focused on America’s Sun Belt -the south-east of the US, including states like eastern California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Parth Vaishnav, co-author of the report, said: “It is happening already, but in a fairly limited way.
“There are about 3.3 million truck drivers in America, though many don’t stay in the trade long.
“The long-haul jobs, in particular, are some of the worst.
“Not only are they protracted and tedious, but they are among the lowest-paid gigs.
“Long-haul drivers are on the road about 300 days a year and make around $47,000; short-haul routes can be trickier and, as such, pay better and attract more experienced drivers.”
The long-haul workforce has a very high turnover and can change completely over the course of a year.
According to the American Trucking Associations, there is a shortage of 61,000 drivers.
“In our imagination, we see these as middle-class jobs,” Vaishnav said, “but that hasn’t been the case for a while.”
Presently, the driver shortage is so severe that American trucking companies are attempting to import drivers in order to alleviate one of the supply chain crisis’s most severe bottlenecks.