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Todd Dills

If Trump really wants to save U.S. jobs …

| January 05, 2017

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slow down federal encouragement of / funding for autonomous vehicle research . That is, at least, the point of view offered in this column by Paul Harasim of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Published last month, Harasim’s argument drew heavily on an interview with Texas-based trucker Jerry Jackson, and came amid reports about the increasing speed at which vehicle automation seems to be coming. The disconnect between truckers’ expected timeline for such technology’s commercial viability and the view of tech wizards in Silicon Valley and elsewhere made National Public Radio in October. (The online version was headed up by a picture of one of the retrofit Otto Volvos.) Our blogger Wendy Parker referenced another report about said disconnect, published more recently at the Quartz website.

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More recently, this report about similar disconnects in other sectors showed one Silicon Valley company experimenting with a Universal Basic Income (UBI is Social Security for all, all the time, essentially) concept to test the feasibility of such given the displacement of work opportunities of a variety of kinds that technological automation could result (and is resulting, in some cases) in. The key concern: “What if we’re entering an automated future where there won’t be enough jobs for the people who need them? If this happens, how will people pay for food and shelter?” asked reporter Queena Kim.

In Kim’s report, the pilot project of sorts in UBI is detailed as the brainchild of “tech accelerator” Y Combinator, which will for a time deliver a guaranteed sum to a certain number of residents and track what happens in their lives following.

Another test of such a system — in this case for unemployed workers and packaged as welfare reform of a sort — is in place in Finland. It’s also under discussion in left-of-center circles in the United States and around the world. The central tension (whether technological progress will ultimately create as many or more work opportunities than it will displace, or not) we’ve hit on in past reporting on the increasing automation truckers can expect as heavy vehicles develop over the next decades.

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To date, the Department of Transportation has more or less encouraged vehicle automation. Note a recent model guidance situated around the regulatory framework for manufacturers of so-called “highly automated vehicles” (HAVs). It expressed an explicit purpose to “speed the delivery of an initial regulatory framework and best practices to guide manufacturers and other entities in the safe design, development, testing, and deployment of” such vehicles.

A regulatory framework around the testing and certification of the safety of such vehicles can certainly be seen as a good thing for those who will ultimately be sharing the road with them (see the issues with Tesla’s Autopilot function from last year for some evidence for that). Yet it could also create the conditions that indeed speed automation’s arrival to the mainstream of transportation. For what it’s worth, what DOT’s hopeful of, ultimately, they say: better safety to come along with greater automation in driving tasks.

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As President Obama, writing in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette the week after Uber’s test-run of semi-autonomous cars in that city began, cast the situation of the administration’s then-recently-proposed guidance: “There are always those who argue that government should stay out of free enterprise entirely, but I think most Americans would agree we still need rules to keep our air and water clean, and our food and medicine safe. That’s the general principle here. What’s more, the quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies.”

As regards four-wheeled automobiles, as has been suggested by some truckers, maybe automation could deliver better highway safety at some point. But, of course, displacement of workers will no doubt occur if a truly driverless four-wheeler emerges as a standard. And if such a standard emerges for heavy trucks, or for the robots following a human-piloted truck in a platooned convoy ….

“If he (Trump) cares about the working man, he’ll stop this talk about driverless trucks.” –Trucker Jerry Jackson in Paul Harasim’s Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial.

Harasim’s editorial emerged in the wake of the announcement that the Carrier Corporation was walking back some of its plans to move jobs from Indiana to Mexico, a move that followed conversations with President-Elect Trump and his transition team. Harasim calls that a good start for the president-elect, but argues that much more could be done. To wit, the incoming Trump administration, he says, could protect millions of truckers’ jobs (for an uncertain amount of time, however) by refusing “to set nationwide rules through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for autonomous vehicles on U.S. highways.”

Meantime, the march toward greater automation continues. Whatever Trump does, it’s true the technological capabilities wrapped up in all this are fast developing, but I tend to agree with most truckers that there will be a driver behind the controls on most runs for quite a long time. At once, there are those within trucking who suggest autonomous big rigs will be become road reality even faster than their four-wheeled counterparts. Just last week, a press release from the American Transportation Research Institute highlighted a “hot topic” panel at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in D.C., scheduled for this coming Monday, that would feature reps from the American Trucking Associations, Uber/Otto and others. Part of the description of the panel, which purports to separate autonomous vehicle myth from fact: “why autonomous trucks will likely evolve faster than autonomous cars.”

Within all of it, whatever happens in the future, there will be pros and cons for those who have a long future ahead of them in trucking, all of which will have to be reckoned with. For now, folks at companies developing the technology by and large speak less of work displacement than of opportunities for owner-operators within what they envision as the future fleet of semi-autonomous rigs. “We spoke with thousands of owner-operators,” Lior Ron of Otto told me last summer, for instance, “when we launched. … We kept hearing the same challenges – they want to move more safely on the road, and they don’t want to make a trade-off between being safe and profitability.”

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Ron, at least, pitches his company’s retrofit technology to turn existing rigs into more autonomously driven machines as one that will ultimately help operators avoid making any such trade-offs. The Uber Freight automated brokerage project, whose basic website is live today, launched in early October, will be something of a companion, Ron said last summer. “Once we have the [Otto] kits on trucks, we can help provide more information on where the truck is, we can plan the route better, we can help the driver drive more efficiently.”

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Staying abreast of what’s new, what’s truly useful and beneficial (and what’s just not necessary) and what drivers of the future might stand to gain from the technology up ahead might be well advised. What’s your thought? (How long before autopilot function allows drivers the opportunity to catch a little shut-eye rolling down the road? I’ve heard from some who look forward to that day, assuming it ever comes. Many others fear the worst from such practices becoming standard, seeing little more than a slippery slope to “reducing labor costs.”)

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31 comments
sepunek
sepunek

like  Stanley  implied  I'm  startled  that  people  able  to  profit  $5278  in  one  month  on  the computer .


Find Out More.............http://tinyurl.com/dailyjobs85 


ThomasWhitfield
ThomasWhitfield

Were a human has judgement and intuition; a computer only has procedure. Were a human has past experience and memory recall; a computer only has reference data. Were a human can react with spontaneity and avoid risk; a computer can only assess risk and choose a pre-programmed option. Why do tech companies feel so cavalier and determined to introduce this type of artificial decision making on our nation's highways at a top cruising speed of 70 mph and a GVWR of 80,000 lbs.? It will certainly displace drivers. It will certainly lead to massive job losses. The DOT and President Trump need to put the brakes on this as fast as possible. AI and autonomous big trucks are not safe.

Coffeeclue
Coffeeclue

@ThomasWhitfield I would disagree with you. AI is much safer than human drivers. This has been proven again and again. AI doesn't fall asleep, doesn't have a bad day, doesn't get sick. AI makes decisions much faster than any human, with the ability to "see" much further ahead and anticipate situations. AI needs to learn. Once it does, there is no human that can beat it in safety and performance. 

In terms of job loss, there are plenty of other things to do besides driving a truck. 

ThomasWhitfield
ThomasWhitfield

@Coffeeclue @ThomasWhitfield A computer makes binary calculations. For example, a distinct choice between zero or one. To the computer, there are no areas of judgement or skill based proficiency which are unique to a human's intellect and mode of conscience. Humans can demonstrate proficiency; computers and AI cannot. That is why autonomous big trucks are not safe.

Coffeeclue
Coffeeclue

@ThomasWhitfield First, there are various levels of human proficiency. Second, the binary calculations are based on multiple inputs. Computer can evaluate the situation and make a calculation of the best outcome. This, of course, requires training. AI may not be ready today, but the more scenarios computer learns, the better it becomes in choosing the right outcome. 

Human drives mostly by intuition. Computer drives by a set of rules. If the set of rules is expansive enough, I will take computer decision over a human one any day.

Coffeeclue
Coffeeclue

Just common sense. I was a software developer before I went into trucking business. I've seen amazing things. Think of a chess playing computer. When they just came out, they were very easy to beat. Not so much now. Not even by grand masters. AI teaches itself and becomes better and better. I'm not saying that self driving trucks are ready now, but give it 20 years and they will learn.

NC111
NC111

Why do the government want to give driving job to a company like Uber?   First of all, Uber does not treat its drivers with respect, they will do anything for their own pocket, less to communities.   There will be a lot of people lose their jobs to Uber, so so sad.  

Coffeeclue
Coffeeclue

If these things ever come to fruition, I'll be the first in line to get one. The weakest link in trucking is drivers. I've been doing this for 13 years and most headaches are caused by the humans behind the wheel. This is fully understandable. I drive myself and I start going nuts after about a week. I choose my routes carefully so they last about a week. 

I have no problem getting good freight and selecting good routes. If there ever comes a time when I can book loads and have them delivered with no whining, no need for the truck to come back home in the middle of a route because of family issues etc, running 24/7, I'll be a happy man. 

RLDV9
RLDV9

@Coffeeclue You have been watching too much TV, like the show with Kit,{ wasn't that the talking car }, that could drive itself. From what i have read there is still going to have to be a live person in the truck, sitting behind the wheel. Is that live person going to ride for free, if he's not, how is that going to save money. I've seen a few automated cars or trains pulling a few wagons in some warehouses, but that wasn't on the road with other cars and trucks running 60-70 mph.either. 

T3
T3

Driverless trucks will not take over >>>>>>>>>>>>>!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>....................... There drivers out there that only want to drive 1000 1200 miles a week for big trucking co !!! And the government need too STOP!! supplementing BIG trucking company too hire drivers AND STOP LIEING !!! TOO DRIVERS............

brad4076
brad4076

The reason for all this automation BS is they want Trump to keep funding there millions of dollars for research and they know it isn't workable and don't care it is free government money and they are making a living using smoke and mirrors to our "leaders".  Trump should take those millions and do some good for the trucking industry.  Like a place to park when you need to. Time to "DRAIN THIS SWAMP" 

AlexSaquette
AlexSaquette

This is not not just but other russa to discourage drivers from demanding more improving to their currents salary and social working conditions, any of the technologies being proposed today will be in place and fully working in at least the next five to seven years, drivers should keep pushing to improve their current salaries and deal with all this unpractical and difficult to implement proposals when they come around, I suggest no to pay attention because all this automation crap are mainly pushed to create anxiety and a sence of defeat on a very strong working sector as professional drivers are, they ( drivers ) just need to realize this.


https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalTruckDriversAlliance/

stardust1777
stardust1777

lets be real folks, the pubic isn't going to put up with driver less trucks, or cars for that matter!

stop and think about it, all the chores that you have to perform, other than driving, how is the

truck going to achieve them, it isn't!  these are just pipe dreams from people in high tech industries, that have no clue of the real world! they live in a bubble, perfect place for them!

and then on the other hand, they say that a license driver has to be in the truck at all times,

so how is this going to put drivers out of a job?  unless your like me, i can't stand riding, i get real tired and board!

JimwithMaxam
JimwithMaxam

OK Everyone,


Listen up.  Bill, the great leader of the unled, the knower of the unknown, has spoken.  He has clearly stated that America does not need trucks or truck drivers.  I say let's shut em' all down and go home!  You too Bill!  Park that truck, walk right in to your Boss, your bank, your wife, whatever, and tell them you're done!  America doesn't need trucks or truckers, right Bill?

Like that lady said on that 20/20 spot some years back," What do we trucks for anyway?. Can't we just go to the store and get what we need?"



MichaelDaleAmmons
MichaelDaleAmmons

I totally agree a driverless truck is more dangerous and it puts more people out of work so trash those stupid junky things ASAP.

YoteAnders
YoteAnders

IF automation is sooo great, why aren't they working on pushing it in cars that weigh a lot less and do less damage when the computer hits a glitch? Why are they pouring all this effort into new technology for an 80,000 pound truck? IT seems they are pushing to automate the vehicle with the greatest destructive power on the road but like any new technology, they don't have the bugs worked out. how many will die? who will be responsible? The reason they are pushing this on trucks is because the big companies with deep pockets can afford to buy these vehicles by the gross. Yep - let the automated truck follow it's GPS out to the middle of a lake because they are still updating systems....

brad4076
brad4076

It is plain arrogance to think we can develop auto trucks.  I was in Kansas city today in a snow storm and I would love to see a auto truck deal with that rodeo.  Any driver knows how reliable tec is , use your GPS that alone will answer my position on this matter.  Now on the matter of our great white hope called TRUMP, I voted for him because I didn't have a choice, but if you think he is the answer to the trucking industries problems then you believe in auto trucks.  I,ve been out here for 40 years and the only solution to the problems is you.  The problem is our arrogance and childish infighting that is what is ruining the industry.  I can tell all of you right now,  if you don't pull together you get what you sew. Bitching is a way to vent, but action and I mean real action is the only way to make changes.   I'm old school and still use and listen to the CB.  If all you mouth pieces would follow up with your ideas or get involved it couldn't hurt.  On a sad note I've heard this BS for 40 years and it is going south, independent owner ops will soon be a " ya remember when there were guys that were on there own I'll bet that was fun.  Just like I remember when truck stops were truck stops with restaurants,phones,shops and at a good price not an over priced fast food place., but company drivers like them because look at all them points. YEA!!  MY POINT

StevenLantzHenson
StevenLantzHenson

I'm not an owner operator but even as a company driver I have seen and witnessed that there is no camaraderie between drivers anymore I drove 10 years, it's a 10 years off. Now that I'm back I'm not liking what I see and what I witnesse out here as far as drivers helping other drivers or being courteous. All that seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird

Nomoredriving
Nomoredriving

Company driver, owner op, really no difference as far as today's drivers are concerned. It's hard to be friendly or helpful when you hate your job and your a slave to a stopwatch. You probably should not have come back. It's a thankless job. And thanks to the greed of others, not a very good paying job either. At least not for what you have to deal with these days. Good luck my friend. God bless

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

First off, let me say this: I've been in this industry for 28.7 years now. These drivers think America cannot survive without trucking and that is so wrong on so many levels.

Drivers are crying themselves out of the industry by the droves. I hear drivers saying that they hate the industry. To be honest, I'm NOT going to work in a industry that I hate. I love the industry and have not worked in 28.7 years. Drivers are their own worst enemies by far and refuse to admit it. I know where I stand, do YOU ?

Nomoredriving
Nomoredriving

Well, we still need people to do all the crap jobs. The trick is finding enough masochists that actually enjoy getting kicked in the balls on a daily basis. So yes we still need drivers at this time. I'm happy that you somehow actually enjoy it. I did also. (DID). Anyone who has been driving as long as you have, and can't recognize the difference between then and now, probably has two calluses for balls anyway. Believe it or not, there is life after trucking. A better life. Sure driving does get in your blood, but nothing a sobering transfusion can't fix. I do applaud those of you which remain, whipping that dying horse, getting that daily cavity invasion, being treated less than humane, constantly worried about regs and physicals, driving records and DAC reports, sleeping in a closet, pissing in a jug, eating crap, food and otherwise, showering in who knows what, wiping down every toilet seat you see, always needing to be there yesterday, chaining up, wrenching, bending over at a shop, 4 wheelers, cops, DOT, EPA, fuel taxes, mile taxes, HUT, FET, ELD, speed limiter, parking, shippers, receivers, detention, brokers, dispatchers, and idiots in general. Sure, what's not to love?

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

Brother, I simply roll with the changes. I still love it. Nothing will take my love for it away.

Nomoredriving
Nomoredriving

Well, God bless you. If you still somehow love it, that really is what is important at the end of the day. Personally, I would look into weather I was suffering from Stockholm syndrome or not. Rolling with the changes (punches) simply wasn't worth it any longer. I realized that no matter what side of the head I'm punched on, I'm still being punched. Sometimes rolling with the changes isint a good thing. That is a slave mentality. Of coarse many people feel stuck where they are for many reasons. It is more dignifying to develope a outward appearance of love for where you are, than to admit you have developed a hatred towards it. Then you are just cheating yourself out of what otherwise could be a rewarding change in life. Of coarse I like to experience as much of what life has to offer as possible. But again, to each their own. Thanks for all you do. I for one know it's not easy. Keep the shiny side up my friend.

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

Thank you for the most positive post I've seen on here yet.

Spence Weeks
Spence Weeks

I can't even trust a guidance system on a piece of farm equipment going 4-5 mph across a big open field. Why would I want to trust a guidance system on a car or truck that's going anywhere from 20-75 mph down the road in traffic ?

WilliamLFields
WilliamLFields

Your BudLight Deliverys are already being made by automated trucks in Colorado. So.......

Truckman
Truckman

@WilliamMcKelvie 

I read about ONE delivery;a test. apparently IT went well,but that's just one of one. I don't have a lot of faith in their maintaining that average for long. as long as there are random influences involved (weather,drunk drivers,mechanical failures,distracted cage drivers,damaged roadways,etc. etc. ) I believe they're doomed to failure. A well skilled driver stands a better chance of handling all the stuff that "NEVER happens" than an electro-piloted truck.MAYBE they'd be viable in a warehouse complex or other "contained work area,but on the highway,sharing the road with other traffic- I'll pass on driverless trucks,thank you.

WilliamMcKelvie
WilliamMcKelvie

Really? Automated trucks hauling beer in Colorado? Who would have thunk it?