Imagine a daily commute where all the people in the car read the paper, work on computers or make small talk. There is no need for a driver as the car whizzes its way to its destination. This isn't the beginning of a science fiction fantasy or even the ideal far flung future. It's new technology that's enjoying testing and developing now for use in the upcoming decade. Google is already testing cars and trucks that offer complete automation with positive results.
Google automated cars have seen very few and very minor accidents that were the fault of other drivers. In Nevada, a semi truck, Freightliner’s Inspiration, makes it way around the roads and interstates without a driver although it rides with a human to act as back up.
While all of this is very exciting, one can't help but wonder about the people who drive professionally. From long-haul truck drivers to New York City cabbies, many professional drivers face a bleak future with the addition of automated cars and trucks. Upwards of four million professional drivers may find themselves with a need to learn a new trade. This loss of jobs will hit American truck drivers the hardest with almost half this number coming from truck drivers. Almost a million delivery drivers will need new employment. Other professional drivers will need to find work, including cab drivers, bus drivers and Uber drivers.
In Southern states from Texas to Virginia, the loss of jobs will affect 3 to 4 percent of the population while other states can see the number at 4 to 5 percent of workers for a state, according to Census data from 2014. In major cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and Boston, the number of cab drivers, bus drivers and Uber drivers are much higher percentages of the working population. Southern Texas, Southern California, and Bronx and Queens area of New York City will see almost "10 percent" of its workforce scrambling for new jobs and trades when automated cars hit the road, according to Census data.
Of course, a new technology like this will create some new job positions that truck drivers can train to fill. Some of these new jobs include fleet management and engineering jobs for design and tweaking the cars. Designing and building the new infrastructure designed to maximize the benefits of automated cars will add jobs. Other new jobs could include insurance positions, delivery and service jobs, and car repairs. But when will that happen?
As with any new technology, there are kinks to work out of the system. One has to wonder how quickly American can be convinced to turn over the operation of their cars to a computer. Most Americans view car ownership and driving a status symbol that defines them and getting them to hand over the job might take some time. While there is a lot of excitement surrounding the current testing, there are certain bugs to iron out before mass production becomes a reality. There isn't any need for truck drivers, cabbies and Uber drivers to start a job search just yet. In fact, decade may pass before automated cars work the way tech insiders hope.