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One Step Closer to Self-Driving Trucks (Video)

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
The company is called Otto. They are former Google engineers who have developed a kit that can convert your truck to a self-driving one. Volunteers are being sought to test this technology. More here.

I've been a proponent of self-driving trucks since I first heard of the concept, but I have to admit, watching this video is a little unnerving.

 

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
Technology has always killed jobs and it will continue to do so.

As machinery became available, small farms gave way to large ones and the number of farmers declined. To save jobs, would you pass a law that limits farm machinery to a certain size? Would you limit farms themselves to a certain number of acres so more farmers are required to operate them?

ATMs reduced the number of bank tellers and now, with upcoming video-conferencing capabilities, most bank tellers are likely to be replaced by machines. These ATMs give banks the ability to provide customer service in one state while locating the tellers in call centers in low-wage states. Would you ban all ATMs so bank teller jobs can be recreated?

There is a story about an American business person who visited a construction site in a third-world country and saw lots of men working with shovels. When he asked why they do not use machinery, he was told it puts more people to work. He next asked, why do you not give them spoons?

It's not always technology that drives jobs away. Sometimes its regulation. In cities and states where the minimum wage has been raised, fast food restaurants are installing self-order kiosks that replace humans at the counter. It seems that those fast-food workers who protested in favor of a higher minimum wage protested themselves out of their jobs. It was not new technology that prompted this change, it was new wage legislation. With that genie out of the bottle, look for these wage-saving kiosks to appear by the millions in the near future.

It will be the same with self-driving trucks. There is no stopping it because there is no political will to limit employers to spoons or shovels when backhoes and bulldozers are available.

I'm an advocate of self-driving trucks and cars because of the many safety and productivity benefits they will bring; not just for the companies, but for the drivers too.

An OTR driver who gained 10 hours a day because his or her truck drove itself on a cross-country run gains that much in free time. A driver who knows how to spend that free time in money-making ways, like maybe operating an online business of any sort, might find this technology to be a bonanza, providing the ability to run two businesses at once.

Increased home time may be a benefit too. If the truck does not have to stop while the solo driver sleeps, the solo driver can complete more miles faster. One would not have to be away from home so long.

Eventually, self-driving trucks will replace drivers altogether and billions of dollars will be saved as robots that don't need seats, windshields, air conditioning and a sound system replace truck cabs altogether. That's a ways off, though. The system pictured in this video, a system that only works on freeways, will be seen first.

In construction, the person who operates heavy equipment makes more than the one who uses a shovel. So too with self-driving trucks, I think. The driver who embraces the technology and increases one's skills to work with it will make more than the driver who works without the technology. The driver who can cover twice the miles in half the time will be more valuable to the company than the one who can cover half the miles in twice the time.

The Otto trucks are not driver-independent. A new kind of driver with additional technology skills will be needed to operate rigs equipped with these kits. That would command higher pay, I would think.
 
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OntarioVanMan

Retired Expediter
Owner/Operator
Now I new field also appears new techs will be needed to fix the problems that come up... You can't stop progress by regulation... We'd have never reached the moon or even achieved air flight....
 

OntarioVanMan

Retired Expediter
Owner/Operator
People THINK they are entitled to a certain way of life .... And that has a cost ... American are very spoiled and always want the best but don't want to pay for it... They think it has no cost beyond the wallet.... It's a ME world out there
 

Grizzly

Veteran Expediter
Owner/Operator
I can say that I've never been compared to a spoon or shovel before ... :D
I definitely agree that technology will not be stopped.
I'm gonna go cut my grass this morning ... I guess I should enjoy riding my Snapper while it lasts ;)
 

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
As with truck jobs, so too with taxi drivers:

Uber Begins Testing Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh

In 2014, Uber CEO said, "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away,"

When self-driving Uber vans appear on the road, what becomes of B-units and their drivers? That day may be here sooner than you think.Self-driving vans don't turn down loads. They don't complain when they sit and they don't complain about hauling cheap freight. On the other hand, they don't load or fuel themselves either.

Google, Fiat Ink Deal to Make 100 Self-Driving Minivans
 
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Moot

Veteran Expediter
Owner/Operator
In 2014, Uber CEO said, "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.
Also, when there is no dude in the car, there is no dude to go on a murderous rampage and kill six people.
 

davekc

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Fleet Owner
Looks like a bonanza for fleet owners. :p How long until the gym goes up for sale? lol
 

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
Don't you think at this point carriers just may become fleet owners again?
When self-driving trucks and vans become the norm, I think the transformation will go further than that.

The beginning and end of the freight transportation industry is the shipper and consignee. They need to move goods. If there was a way to do that without trucks and drivers (think Star-Trek transporters), that's what they would do.

Carriers provide the trucks and drivers that move the freight. Self-driving trucks eliminate drivers, and all the safety, payroll and human resources challenges that go with them. You are correct. With drivers out of the picture, there is no need for fleet owners. There is no need for lease agreements with owner-operators. Carriers will buy the self-driving trucks and use technology to book the loads. A new set of low-pay jobs will develop to support the trucks, at least until robot fuel stations appear to support robot trucks and robot lumpers replace human lumpers.

With such technology in place, I believe truck manufacturers will come to replace motor carriers. Now, truck manufacturers make a truck and sell it once to a motor carrier. If the manufacturer opens a cargo division to perform the carrier role, it does not sell the truck that rolls new out of the factory. It turns the truck over to its cargo division and runs it like a carrier would, making money on it over and over again, year after year.

Robot trucks are not easily built or acquired. That's why I believe the power will eventually shift to the builders. Large companies like Walmart that warehouse goods, run trucks and sell goods may see fit to own and operate its own fleet of robot trucks and robot lumbers. But carriers like Swift will have little to bargain with if the companies that sell them trucks today decide tomorrow to keep the robot trucks and move the freight themselves. A Volvo/Swift merger is easy to envision.

In such a world, it would make little sense for someone to invest in a fleet of 5, 10 or even 100 trucks with the idea of providing fleet-owner service to a motor carrier. The carriers themselves have more buying power, more truck-financing power and more direct control over the technology that operates the trucks, books the loads and has a bigger presence and trusted name in the marketplace. A multi-truck fleet owner has no value to add if the only thing provided is self-driving trucks. Carriers can buy or lease the machines and be free of the fleet-owner burden too.
 
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PJay59

Expert Expediter
In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
You ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you
In the year 6565
You won't need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

In the year 7510
If God's a coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
Guess it's time for the judgment day
In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down, and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been ten thousand years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday



Read more: Zager And Evans - In The Year 2525 Lyrics | MetroLyrics
 

OntarioVanMan

Retired Expediter
Owner/Operator
until one of these units has a software issue and crashes thru a school bus or school yard...or just takes out multiple victims...
and then will insurers even allow them on the road?.....like insure these?....and at what cost?..in an unproven technology in real time operations.
 

Slo-Ride

Veteran Expediter
until one of these units has a software issue and crashes thru a school bus or school yard...or just takes out multiple victims...
and then will insurers even allow them on the road?.....like insure these?....and at what cost?..in an unproven technology in real time operations.
Are they not on the road now? Just not in mass numbers yet I believe and still in the testing stage. If I'm not mistaken one of the Google cars has been involved in a crash with a school bus. The first incident that was completely the driverless cars fault out of maybe ten wrecks it has been involved in. So I'm sure those are chalked up as allowable levels.
Its coming and we properly won't see it in full operation but its here.
I can see this affecting a whole lot more then just drivers. It could very easily do away with a good deal of carriers once manufactures figure out then can ship on their own once again.
 

OntarioVanMan

Retired Expediter
Owner/Operator
the way I look at it driverless trains aka Remote control and airplanes has been around for years and not implemented on a grand scale...and they both have a lot more of a controlled enviroment then trucking and some computer dealing with Grandma...
 
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Slo-Ride

Veteran Expediter
the way I look at it driverless trains aka Remote control and airplanes has been around for years and not implemented on a grand scale...and they both have a lot more of a controlled enviroment then trucking and some computer dealing with Grandma...
I agree with you for now..Alot has to be worked out and its in the making. I think the first we will see in the industry will be satellite plants located near the manufactures and or rail heads and automated switchers will come online first.. Then the open road.
 

OntarioVanMan

Retired Expediter
Owner/Operator
I agree with you for now..Alot has to be worked out and its in the making. I think the first we will see in the industry will be satellite plants located near the manufactures and or rail heads and automated switchers will come online first.. Then the open road.
no doubt..the day is coming....I'd love to be around (I think) in this new automated world....
I was in a plant where the product was never touched by human hand 15 yrs ago.....all robots....pallets, right to the loading dock where a human put them on the truck....
 
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