Automated vehicles will displace only a modest number of truck driver jobs, if any, in the United States, according to a new report commissioned by the American Center for Mobility, led by Michigan State University and supported by Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
The report suggests that significant numbers of AVs will be deployed only by the latter half of the 2020s and at that point, some displacement of passenger car-based driving jobs could occur, mainly among taxicab drivers.
Due to existing truck driver worker shortages, and the belief that automated technology will largely support truck drivers instead of replacing them, truck drivers are not likely to be displaced in large numbers. Also, limousine and bus/transit drivers who are executing services that necessitate face-to-face interaction or passenger assistance, such as luxury services and paratransit, are less likely to be displaced by automated vehicles in the foreseeable future, the report found. These drivers will likely undergo training to learn how to use the new supportive technology.
Based on the report’s findings, ACM and the study authors recommend the following steps be taken:
- Conduct additional research that captures the input of the vehicle operators in different workforce sectors on what training they would be interested in pursuing.
- Identify, in greater detail, the specific skillsets needed by the automotive and technology industries to facilitate the creation and adoption of AVs.
- Establish rapid coursework and training that meets those specific needs.
- Conduct additional research to quantify the overall positive financial impact of automated vehicle technology on the economy as a whole, and the potential for job creation.
Finally, the report suggests a substantial change to the way workers in many industries do their jobs, in some instances radically. The research indicates motor vehicle manufacturers and technology firms working in the automated vehicle arena are already finding it difficult to hire enough workers with certain technology skillsets; and as automated vehicles begin to proliferate, maintenance and certain adjacent occupations will need to evolve and expand.
The research was funded by ACM, Waymo, AARP and the Toyota Research Institute.