Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Affect Auto Transport?
There's plenty of chatter going around these days about the future of driverless vehicles, but while the discussion is usually focused on safety and how soon they'll be fully functional, the question of how it'll affect certain industries has not yet been readily discussed.
Given how much auto transport relies on drivers to transport vehicles throughout the country on their trailers, the question of how self-driving trucks will affect auto transport is the one that must be asked. Though the answer is that, yes, it will definitely have a major impact on auto transport, how much of an impact it'll have is not yet apparent.
Here are some of the main ways in which self-driving trucks can potentially affect auto transport:
Can Lead to New Companies Emerging
When driverless trucks or, at least, semi-driverless trucks, become a viable alternative, this will most likely lead to a few new auto transport companies emerging. These companies will be built from the ground up to take advantage of driverless technology, which requires a significant upfront investment.
In all likelihood, these companies could be the by-product of silicon valley companies or silicon valley investors pooling their money together to attempt to gain a large market share of the transport industry as a whole.
Traditional Auto Transport Carriers May Go Out of Business
While new auto transport companies will emerge, many traditional auto transport carriers will probably close up shop. The ones that close up shop will be the ones that don't evolve and eventually adopt this new self-driving technology. The two main reasons why some auto transport carriers will go out of business are:
- Not being able to afford the large upfront investment and costs associated with adopting self-driving vehicles;
- Being passed over by people or companies who have chosen to use self-driving trucks instead.
Drivers Will Lose Their Jobs...Sort Of
As a study in the Los Angeles Times indicated, over 1.7 million truckers will possibly lose their jobs due to robots within the next ten years (see: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-automated-trucks-labor-20160924/). But while many drivers will certainly lose their jobs, new positions will be created.
But There's Hope...
Many of the driverless trucks that have been tested require a person to actually be there during the trip in order to make sure that everything is going as planned. He or she can override the system and take control of things if there are any software glitches or unexpected occurrences. While it'll take a long time for self-driving trucks to be on the road in anything but a testing phase, it'll take even longer for these trucks to not have any human presence in them at all.
In spite of this, as the Los Angeles Times article states, "Trucking will likely be the first type of driving to be fully automated – meaning there’s no one at the wheel. One reason is that long-haul big rigs spend most of their time on highways, which are the easiest roads to navigate without human intervention."
However, when it comes to door-to-door pick-ups and loading and unloading the vehicle onto the trailer, it's unlikely that this will be able to be done without a professional being present.
Self-driving trucks, in terms of how they will affect the auto transport industry, are still very much unknown, as they have the potential to entirely overhaul the industry. One thing is for certain, A-1 Auto Transport will be there every step of the way!
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.