Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The self-driving trucks are coming

I once predicted that the unique nature of trucks would make them the first place self-driving technology is fully embraced and it now seems that some of the biggest names in technology feel the same way. From the New York Times:
Despite Silicon Valley’s enthusiasm for self-driving cars, it could be years before there are many of them on the road. But autonomous 18-wheelers? One start-up is betting that is a different matter.
Otto, led by 15 former Google engineers, including major figures from the search company’s self-driving car and maps projects, is aiming at the long-haul freeway driving that is the bread and butter of the commercial trucking industry.
The engineers think that automating trucks rather than passenger vehicles could be more palatable financially and to regulators. Nationally, trucks drive 5.6 percent of all vehicle miles and are responsible for 9.5 percent of highway fatalities, according to Department of Transportation data.
Once the technology behind self-driving vehicles is fully realized it is going to do two things. One it will cause massive employment displacement. Second it redefine the nature of cities due to changes in people's transportation needs.

Hopefully our politicians will act in a timely manner to deal with the job displacement issue, because large shocks to employment combined with changing in a the nature of cities is recipe for the areas becoming new pockets of entrenched poverty.

My first sci-fi novel, Cobalt Slave, is now on sale at Amazon. Please consider leaving a review.