As they speed through the clouds, most air travelers are comfortable knowing that their pilot is not actually bothering to fly the plane. On the open highway, however, it may be harder to accept truck drivers who take their hands off the wheel to text, watch movies, or gaze at the scenery as it rolls lazily by.
Yet self-driving trucks could become a common sight in coming years. One company at the forefront of this technology is Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand. Recently, the company demonstrated its “Future Truck 2025” concept, with a modified vehicle that cruised down the autobahn at a top speed of 53 MPH. The driver was able to switch at will between manual control and the automated Highway Pilot system,.
I see the Highway Pilot as an exciting example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) connects the unconnected. Using a convergence of innovations that leverage Wi-Fi, data analytics, radar, GPS, and stereo video sensors, Highway Pilot steers the truck, senses other vehicles, and maintains the most efficient speed and route. IN the process, it enables a whole new technology platform and business model. After all, many countries face a shortage of truck drivers; and fuel consumption issues and safety concerns persist — especially on long, grueling hauls.
I see the self-driving truck as a great example of how technology can create new job opportunities and transform work experiences. Long-haul trucking is a tough, often tedious, and occasionally dangerous job. But technology can make it safer and less stressful. Not to mention efficient: the self-driving vehicle can go longer without stopping and maximize energy efficiency.
Technology won’t necessarily eliminate the job of truck driver, but it will change the job skills needed. The “driver” may become more of an engineer: parking the vehicle and taking over in a potential emergency, but also programming and monitoring systems.
As I often say, think twice before you tell your children they won’t amount to anything if they play too many video games. Those games may be imparting some key skills that will hold them in good stead in the Internet of Everything economy — for jobs that we can barely imagine today. (Disclaimer: they still need to do their homework and get their education!)
Someday, when your gaming-obsessed son or daughter spies a job opening on their wearable device for Trucking Engineer/Programmer, they will be ready.
What do you think about the future of self-driving trucks and the evolution of job skills in trucking and other industries?