WASHINGTON, DETROIT, DEARBORN — Millions of workers in the U.S. alone are expected to face growing competition as computerized autonomous vehicles start to perform taxi and truck driving jobs.
While the takeover of trucking by computerized robots is considered inevitable, how soon it will happen is a matter of debate. Some say it will take years to fully develop. Others predict it will happen much sooner.
Massive, autonomous mining trucks move giant loads of earth and ore in Australia and elsewhere. The trucks are able to handle the very limited traffic seen in the mine, but the chaos of the open road will be a bigger challenge.
The head of engineering for the American Trucking Association, Ted Scott, says it will take time to work out regulations, testing and public acceptance. “With the technology that is there, we can take the driver out of the vehicle. We aren’t gonna do that for a long time."
Volvo and Uber have announced a plan to test self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and Ford recently announced a joint research effort with a Chinese company to push self-driving vehicle technology forward. Audi and others are testing robot drivers in ever more complex environments, including Audi's race up a large American mountain and big city traffic.
A former official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chan Leiu, says these tests may speed things up: "We are not that far from the ultimate vision of a completely self-driving car." Leiu says autonomous vehicles literally put people’s lives in the hands of robots. But that may be a good thing because he says 94 percent of accidents are caused by people who are tired, drunk, texting, or making other mistakes.
This could save tens of thousands of lives, according to Notre Dame professor Tim Carone. "There's a journey to get there, but the journey ends with (an) order of magnitude decrease in (the) number of accidents, number (of) fatalities, number of injuries."
Read the entire story on the Voice of America website.