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Opinion: Truck Drivers Like Me Will Soon Be Replaced by Automation. You're Next.

I’ve been driving big trucks since shortly after my 21st birthday in 1980 and I always figured I’d be able to stay on the road until retirement. Now I’m not so sure. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Daimler, Tesla, Uber, Ford and Toyota are all investing billions of dollars in driverless vehicles.

Opinion: Truck Drivers Like Me Will Soon Be Replaced by Automation. You're Next.

I’m sure about one thing, though: driverless trucks will be here before driverless cars because that’s where the early money is going to be made. With some of the world’s most aggressive and best capitalized companies racing to be first with a viable driverless vehicle, I don’t give myself very good odds on choosing when to hang up my keys.

The only humans left in a modern supply chain are truck drivers. Today’s cutting-edge warehouses buzz with automated forklifts and robots that load and unload trucks while drivers stand around sipping coffee — and getting paychecks and health insurance. That’s the kind of thing that drives corporate finance types crazy. The best option is to eliminate drivers.

I understand that global industry is constantly being reinvented to reduce inefficiencies. New technologies will not be stopped, because if we don’t do it here, they’ll do it everywhere from Singapore to Shanghai or Dusseldorf and we’ll be left behind.

I also understand that human error is responsible for almost all vehicle accidents. About 1.25 million people worldwide are killed on roadways every year, including 40,000 in the U.S. I’ve no doubt that when the technology is perfected and critical mass is achieved, those millions of deaths will be reduced to a trickle.

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I’m sure about one thing, though: driverless trucks will be here before driverless cars because that’s where the early money is going to be made. With some of the world’s most aggressive and best capitalized companies racing to be first with a viable driverless vehicle, I don’t give myself very good odds on choosing when to hang up my keys.

The only humans left in a modern supply chain are truck drivers. Today’s cutting-edge warehouses buzz with automated forklifts and robots that load and unload trucks while drivers stand around sipping coffee — and getting paychecks and health insurance. That’s the kind of thing that drives corporate finance types crazy. The best option is to eliminate drivers.

I understand that global industry is constantly being reinvented to reduce inefficiencies. New technologies will not be stopped, because if we don’t do it here, they’ll do it everywhere from Singapore to Shanghai or Dusseldorf and we’ll be left behind.

I also understand that human error is responsible for almost all vehicle accidents. About 1.25 million people worldwide are killed on roadways every year, including 40,000 in the U.S. I’ve no doubt that when the technology is perfected and critical mass is achieved, those millions of deaths will be reduced to a trickle.

Read Full Article

Opinion: Truck Drivers Like Me Will Soon Be Replaced by Automation. You're Next.