With the truck manufacturing industry booming in Australia, it has for many years provided millions of jobs for the people as well. Trucking is one of the most common occupations in the country; but will that still be the case now that self-driving vehicles are slowly taking the spotlight?
With all the advancements in technology we are now enjoying, self-driving cars won’t be seen in the movies only. Now that Tesla has announced the launch of its fully automated vehicle come 2018, it is evident that we are going to see more of these self-driving cars. In addition, The Freightliner Inspirational Truck, the first ever road-legal autonomous truck has already debuted in the market. Since then, truckers all over the world are in sort of a limbo, thinking that maybe they’ll slowly be replaced by self-driving trucks.
Being the leading Melbourne wreckers of used and old trucks, we are here to shed some light into the current predicament of truckers and all those affected by the rise of autonomous vehicles. As your trusted car and truck wreckers Melbourne, we want to help you understand the current situation we all are facing.
The initial reactions…
According to a study done by PWC in 2015, there is an 80% chance that Australia’s more than 94,000 professional drivers of road and rail vehicles to be replaced by automation in the next 20 years. Well, the initial reactions of Aussie truckies are mixed. Some were of course taken aback, thinking that they might just lose their jobs. But then, some still remain at ease – not at all flinching, and confident that they’d still enjoy their career for years.
Some experts say, if Australian businesses were to base their decisions on the ongoing trends in the US, you’ll actually see them replacing truckers with self-driving trucks. On a general point of view, when business owners opt to replace their employees with trucks that could drive themselves, they are going to save millions of dollars not only on employee compensation but also on their operating expenses. The self-driving trucks are predicted to arrive sooner for there would be no need for toilet and snack breaks, sleeping, and the like. They will have to pay less on fuel bills. No more lost shipments. The companies of course, would have to adjust; their truckers will have to sacrifice; and then they’ll soon be reaping the benefits.
Let’s look at the bright side first…
Before we all get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at all the advantages that autonomous vehicles bring us. First and foremost, trucking is indeed a good-paying job for all the Aussie skilled workers. On the other hand, it is a constantly dangerous one. Every time they head off for a trip, they are putting their lives on the line. They leave their families for a long time, only to set off for another dangerous trip on the outback. Thus, because of autonomous trucks, we are thankfully eliminating that risk. We will no longer need to put more lives in danger. We will no longer encourage poor lifestyle and health habits for drivers. More importantly, we’re looking forward to no more fatalities from truck crashes.
As we all know, truck driving is not as easy as regular driving. Not many are cut out for driving such big complicated vehicles in the wee hours of the night, especially in the outback. It has a specific set of mental, physical, and even emotional demands. With semi-automated trucks, truckies will still get to keep their jobs but will be less tired. Consequently, businesses won’t also have to deal with delays because of driver shortage. It’s sort of a win-win situation, optimistically speaking.
The verdict: Australia is not there yet.
Remember what we mentioned earlier about those truckers who are confident that they won’t lose their jobs anytime soon? It turns out, they’re correct. Why? We’ll give you two points/reasons why the experts think our truckies today need not panic about the situation:
- It is not yet suitable for all the roads and places in our country. – According to Felix Ohie of Viva Energy, we will see semi-automated trucks (not the fully automated ones) in Australia after about 15 years. Currently all kinds of automated trucks are still not suitable for everywhere in the country. We still have to continue developing other technology as well as roads and infrastructure for this self-driving future to really work. The government and other industries involved will also have to come up with new road laws and regulations.
- Mass production of fully-automated trucks are predicted to happen about 25 to 30 years more – Semi-automated trucks will be mass produced about a decade or so, what more for the fully-automated ones? This self-driving future is still technically far from reality. Needless to say, basically all our truckers from ages 40 and above, wouldn’t have to worry about anything at all. Modern cars today are either in Level 2 or 3 (at the most) with regards to how automated the vehicle is. And for a company to really replace a driver with a self-driving truck, it has to buy one that’s Level 5 – as in completely automated. No carmaker has ever invented one like that yet.
- There is still a need for human intervention in the near future. – According to www.theguardian.com, in the foreseeable future, we will still need the help of our skilled and experienced truckers to operate, even if (at the most) we’re looking at semi-automated trucks. It’s truly not easy to replace the people who are used to handling unexpected trucking situations – adjusting to the weather, keeping watch of kangaroos and emus, steering through obstacles in the remote highways, sensing truck problems before they even arise, and whole lot more.
In conclusion, in Australia at the least, professional truck drivers need not worry about losing their jobs for many more years to come. We have still yet to look forward to more automation advancements, road laws and regulations, infrastructure developments, and others. But if at the pit of your stomach, you are still worried, here’s what our team of professional truck wreckers Victoria, mechanics, and recyclers will tell you: Don’t let this get the best of you. Take pride in your career and do what you do best as a trucker. Should we really see the near future of companies using semi-automated trucks? Don’t fret. They are not to be intimidated about. They will actually make your jobs and lives a lot easier than you think.