Who remembers the episode of The Simpsons where When Homer starts driving trucks, he learns that they are all actually self-driving in reality. In fact, many businesses are working on the technology needed to create self-driving trucks, so that possibility may soon become a reality. In fact, Daimler became the first business to receive approval to introduce its on American roads on May 8 of this year, indicating that there is a good chance that self-driving trucks will soon become the standard in the trucking industry. However, despite the fact that this new technology appears exciting and practical at first glance, many people believe that the development of self-driving technology will have unintended negative consequences.
#1 They could put many truckers out of a job
Although self-drive trucks currently need a human driver to be present to deal with unforeseen circumstances like the need for an urgent lane change, for the most part they are capable of handling just about anything on their own. Right now, truckers will be able to sleep while the self-drive truck works, which will reduce the need for truckers because vehicles won’t have to stop so that their drivers can get some rest at a roadside motel, but that’s not really the case. This new technology appears to be going to risk many a trucker’s livelihood even though they are not yet fully autonomous.
#2 They threaten more than just truck drivers’ jobs
3.5 million If you count all the trucking-related jobs that don’t actually require driving, the number of truckers in the United States rises to 8.7 million. The most common job in 29 states is truck driving. All of these people would lose their jobs if self-driving trucks eventually reach a fully autonomous state. Additionally, the majority of roadside businesses, including motels and restaurants, rely on truckers for consistent year-round business because, absent truckers, they are generally only able to operate during the peak travel seasons.
#3 They threaten to put smaller companies out of business
Furthermore, at today’s prices, it would be astronomically expensive to either replace a fleet of trucks as a whole or to update the current fleet, making it possible for only large companies with enormous financial resources to do so. Even though they would ultimately save a ton of money, most smaller haulage companies are unlikely to have the necessary capital to make the change.
#4 They provide a new, material target for hackers
Truck hijacking would become a much more lucrative and straightforward activity than it has ever been if it were possible to virtually take control of any self-driving car. A hacker could simply take control of a truck carrying their desired cargo from the comfort of their home and direct it to their preferred location, where its cargo could be stolen. Researchers were able to hack into a regular car during research into how simple it is to hack self-drive vehicles, proving that this technology will undoubtedly become the latest target for the cunning cybercriminal.
#5 They could actually make driving more dangerous
Over 1.7 million miles later, Google’s self-driving vehicles have only been in 11 accidents—all of which were due to human error rather than the vehicles themselves—and have logged over 1.7 million miles. This may seem like a small percentage, but it highlights a larger issue: drivers must be completely confident in how their vehicle operates, and because they must become adept at using a completely new set of technology, there is a greater chance that they will make a mistake that puts them in danger. Additionally, it raises the risk of accidents by encouraging drivers to attempt to use technology in ways it was not intended. Many drivers find it uncomfortable to operate a self-driving car, but it appears that those who find it comfortable are those whose safety is most at risk from this technology.