With all the talk of the new Federal regulations surrounding EDS and all the other technological advances coming to the trucking industry, should you be concerned about all the Tesla truck talk going on right now? While shipping companies might be able to adapt, what about the drivers who carry the cargo? What does the latest gizmo from Elon Musk and Tesla mean for the future of trucking jobs and for fleet tracking?
Get ready for the new age of the driverless fleet because it’s almost here.
On Nov 16, 2017, Tesla introduced its promised fully electric semi truck and the truck while not being driverless, comes standard with what Tesla calls, “Enhanced Autopilot.” This feature includes lane keeping, lane departure warnings, and automatic braking. Add to that the fact that the truck can go 500 miles between charges while carrying 80,000 pounds of cargo and this latest invention could be the beginning of the end for trucking as we know it.
As a trucker, you don’t have to worry about your job…yet.
That’s because the Tesla semi truck isn’t going into production until 2019 and it’s not fully autonomous. These trucks still require drivers because the Enhanced Autopilot feature only works on the highway. Still, by then, Tesla and other innovators might have perfected driverless technology for all sorts of vehicles by the time they’re being put into mass production. As a result, it’s impossible to say if later models of these trucks will put an end to truck driving as we know it, or if they will just supplement the existing workforce by eliminating the truck driver shortage that currently exists.
Most companies talking about driverless big rig trucks aren’t talking about eliminating truck drivers altogether, but about a future where truck drivers are more like the technicians who monitor the controls of many subways and trams in case of emergencies. However, like other industries that have embraced automation, it could mean fewer jobs for humans and more jobs for computers.
For shippers and cargo companies the future looks bright.
While many career truckers might wonder if they’ll have to change careers or transition to fleet management jobs once the Tesla semi trucks eventually no longer require drivers, if you’re a shipper, driverless trucks like those from Tesla could only help your business, as long as you can afford them.
Tesla is known for its high-priced luxury vehicles, so how will the price to purchase a Tesla semi truck compare? To be a player, they’ll have to keep it competitive with non-electric trucks because the savings in maintenance and operation cost for an electric truck from Tesla might not be enough for some shippers to justify purchasing a fleet from them, especially if the shipper is a small business. Hopefully, Tesla will price their trucks to keep them affordable for more than just larger fleets.
No matter what, trucking & fleet tracking are here to stay.
Trucking is an $800 billion industry, and driverless trucks won’t change that. Improving technology and lowering costs can only be a good thing for the industry and as long as truck drivers can adapt and transition to new types of driving, any downside the inevitable shift to driverless trucks this latest advance from Tesla brings should hopefully be a small one.
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