Autonomous transportation is coming, and with it, concerns about job security. Yet advances in self-driving technology can actually augment trucker jobs—if logistics leaders adopt new skills.
Today, there’s a lot of hype around autonomous transportation technologies and self-driving vehicles. On one hand, there seems to be real potential to revolutionize the delivery industry. Consider the examples of Amazon’s autonomous transportation efforts and Domino’s self-driving pizza delivery cars, both of which aim to transport goods to consumers and quickly and efficiently as possible.
Photo courtesy: Domino's Pizza
Yet the advent of these technologies is also producing new anxieties in current, “traditional” truck drivers. These truckers are wondering how these changes will affect them and what the future of the industry might mean for them.
However, truckers may be more receptive to new technologies than you might think. For example, a new global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight nations conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated found that there is a significant opportunity for new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to improve the workforce experience. In this case, 64% of employees would welcome AI if it simplified or automated time-consuming internal processes.
In reality, the industry is actually experiencing a trucker shortage, which would indicate that job security shouldn’t be a concern. Yet the question remains: What can logistics leaders do to attract, retain, and develop the right employees with the right skills to dispel fears that trucker jobs could be obsolete in a few short years.
Let’s take a closer look at the trends related to autonomous transportation, their impact on the logistics industry, and new skills these professionals should master in the future.
A new approach calls for new skills
In its initial development stage, autonomous transportation will only provide point-to-point transportation using major highways. This will create a hub-and-spoke distribution model, where today’s truck drivers will evolve away from long-haul or over-the-road trucking to driving shorter regional, city, or urban routes.
These changes will create the need for commercial drivers – and the companies they work for – to adopt new ways of thinking and enhance their existing skills in three key ways:
1. Increase overall skills
As commercial drivers begin to spend the bulk of their time driving in more urban settings, they will have many more pick-ups and deliveries as they go back and forth the new autonomous truck hubs to either consumers, businesses or distribution centers. This increases the potential for more accidents, which in turn highlights the need for more highly skilled drivers. “Bumping” docks will also require a higher level of skills than what might have been needed when truckers spent the majority of their time on highways.