Driverless Commercial Vehicles?

Driverless Commercial Trucks

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. From Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, it is safe to say that almost every American owns or has at least engaged in a sophisticated AI tool that mimics the human brain. When it comes to AI in the workplace, the implications are a bit more complicated.

It’s one thing when AI is for personal use. It’s another when it’s used to augment the workplace. One area where AI is being actively applied is in the creation of the driverless vehicle.

Built Upon Driver Assist

Cars with driver assist features (i.e. self-park, brake, blind spot detection, advanced visibility) have been a reality for many years now. When lawmakers passed the Self Drive Act in September 2016, the driverless vehicle was no longer a figment of imagination. In fact, a truly driverless car pickup service has been successfully tested in Phoenix and planning has started for testing in Atlanta by Waymo, formerly the Google Self-Driving Car project.

The deployment of self-driving commercial vehicles is not far from reality.

Enhance Not Eliminate

There is no doubt that there are many benefits to driverless commercial vehicles. For businesses, the “driving” factors are:

  • Reduction of labor costs
  • Advanced supply chain analysis
  • Operating consistency and efficiency

There are a number of drivers that will be impacted when driverless fleets are deployed, but they will not be eliminated. It’s important to remember that AI can only “do” things if it has the data. Machines are cheaper than people, but they will never replace intuition, first-hand experience and problem solving for unknown occurrences.

The adoption of driverless commercial vehicles will most likely create new jobs including maintenance, repair and data analysis. According to predictions, drivers will become more like locomotive engineers, coordinating many vehicles instead of one. By 2020, the commercial driver will need to evolve to learn technical skills to operate robots and advanced communication systems.

Security and Safety Concerns

Before this driverless trend becomes mainstream in the workplace, safety and security must be addressed. Businesses must consider the following questions:

  • What happens if the vehicle is hijacked or impacted by an act of terrorism?
  • What happens when the communication systems are down or experience a bug when the fleet is en route?
  • What happens when weather/road conditions deteriorate without warning? (e.g. tornados, or a sudden drop in temperatures causes icy road conditions)
  • Who is responsible for the transport and off-load of hazardous materials? (In most cases, the drivers are responsible, not the personnel located at the destination)

Overall, driverless vehicles will be a blessing to reduce the need for basic labor, but also a challenge for maintaining security of the truck vehicles and its cargo!

Prepare for the Worst to Keep Your Truck Fleet Safe

Timothy Dimoff’s Trucking and Terrorism presentation discusses all information about terrorists’ new favorite weapon: trucks. As a former law enforcement officer, Tim has unique insight into the mind of would-be hijackers who target and take control of commercial vehicles. Contact Tim to schedule your presentation today.

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