Asking if the truck driver of the future will drive a truck sounds redundant, almost silly doesn’t it? However, it’s a valid question. The closer driverless cars and trucks come to being a reality the more credible the question becomes. The reality is, in the not too far distant future, truck drivers may not be driving trucks. If truck drivers aren’t driving trucks what will they be doing?
Gloom and Doom
Some believe the coming of driverless trucks will cause pain and suffering. They think one hundred thousand drivers will suddenly find themselves out of a job, flooding the market for positions, and causing widespread economic turmoil. Others see a different scenario.
The Future Transport Specialist
The coming of self-driving trucks doesn’t mean all vehicles will be driverless. It means the vehicles can drive themselves. This doesn’t eliminate truck drivers. It may decrease the number of drivers needed, and it will most certainly change the skills required of a trucker. Think about it this way, imagine what the job looks like if you replace truck driver with transport specialist?
What Does a Transport Specialist Do?
A transport specialist will work in an office on wheels. He or she will monitor the activities of the vehicle, communicate with customers, and navigate the itinerary. Think of it as similar to a ship’s captain. A ship’s captain monitors systems and directs the crew as well as the vessel, he or she doesn’t “drive” the ship. A transport specialist will be the captain of his or her 18 wheel ship.
Truck Driver or Platoon Leader?
It may be the driver of the future has an office in the lead vehicle of a platoon of tractor trailers. A Train of Trailers in the Center Lane. The specialist’s responsibilities would include monitoring the functions of all the vehicles as well as customer service for multiple deliveries.
The driver-tech of the future will need to be tech savvy and competent with multiple technologies from using GPS to plan the quickest and most cost effective routes to monitoring systems and calling for, or performing, preventative maintenance to avoid repairs and expensive downtime.
He or she may not even sit up front. They may have an office space with multiple touch screens surrounding them at the rear of the cab. Think of it as an office in a truck.
Customer Service Representative
The Driver of the future will be more directly involved with the customer because they will have the information on hand, and the freedom to communicate with customers. It’s a best case scenario. Today a customer service rep or dispatcher often has to contact the driver for direct knowledge of the shipment. The driver knows best when the delivery will arrive and what may interfere, such as road conditions and traffic. Office personnel must first contact the driver, and then the customer. They may go through this dance several times. A technology expert in his or her office on wheels cuts out the middle person and communicates directly with the end user.
Change is Coming
The one certain fact is…change is coming. Self-driving cars, V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) communications, and augmented reality are coming to the transportation industry. The question is how will it change the trucking industry and the truck driver position? Will the doom and gloom prognosticators be correct? Let’s hope not. If we take a historical perspective, technological advancements have helped humanity more than hurt. The man or women who invented the wheel probably heard anti-wheel protests from sled users.