According to Business Insider, Goldman Sachs predicts that 300,000 truck driving jobs will be lost per year, starting in 2042 or earlier. Qualified drivers will eventually be replaced by computers (and a small number of human manipulators). The innovation of autonomous vehicles could change the work process, and many speculate that advanced machines will replace truck drivers. Some predict that up to 3 million driving jobs could disappear due to automation.
Most truck drivers will be replaced by robots. Automated vehicles are now fully capable of traveling safely on the road and are improving every day in other driving scenarios. Currently, Canada reports a shortage of around 25,000 truck drivers, while the United States reports a huge shortage of around 60,000 drivers. In the longer term, the automation of these tasks are essential components for achieving any high-level market viability of automated road transport.
Some have predicted that autonomous vehicles will eliminate between 2 and 3 million truck jobs in the coming years. These customer service activities could be taken over by customer service representatives or replaced by technology, as has happened in other industries, but until this happens, companies will rely on truck drivers to carry them out. For example, there is currently no technology available (or is being extensively tested) to automate truck loading or unloading. Moving more cargo per trip means fewer trips, but it also means that the driver is even more risky because these trucks are more difficult to handle.
We have found that several companies are developing Level 4 automation for autonomous trucks, with the goal of demonstrating profitability by reducing the need for labor. These problems contribute to the high turnover rates of drivers that are responsible for the shortage of truck drivers. Most companies pay drivers miles rather than for the time they spend driving or for their special skills. But beyond the brakes, accelerator and steering wheel and replicating the human contributions to make those functions work, there is much more to making autonomous truck transport a reality than solving these engineering puzzles.
The system also automatically transmits to the driver where to enter the facility, where the truck should go once entered, and even what dock number should go. While technology still has a long way to go before full autonomous delivery is possible from start to finish, highway miles make up the vast majority of a trucker's driving. The safety improvements and cost savings that autonomous trucks bring are too valuable for businesses and governments to ignore.