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While the major trucking giants race to see who will be the first to produce the best autonomous truck which will likely have incredibly hefty price tags, one upstart startup is working on a way to make even currently existing trucks capable of autonomous driving. And they’re looking for volunteers.

Founded by Anthony Levandowski, who is fresh off of working on Google’s self-driving car, the company, Otto, is attempting to bypass the eye-popping price tags that are likely to accompany new autonomous trucks when they finally hit the market. Instead, they are developing systems that would be installed on regular trucks to make them autonomous.

Levandowski brought in two other former Google employees as co-founders, Lior Ron and Don Burnette, and another robotics expert, Claire Delaunay. Together they created a system that has already seen its first test on public roads.

And it’s not going to stop there. According to the Associated Press, Otto is looking to install their system on 1,000 trucks – and they’re looking for volunteers.

The kits consist of cameras, lasers, radar and lidar sensors which would allow the vehicle to stay in a lane, govern speed, and slow and stop when necessary. Otto is designed for highway driving only; it is not fully autonomous yet and the systems are unlikely to allow for lane changing or point to point navigation, but the goal is for drivers to be able to use it from exit to exit. As Lior Ron in an interview with BackChannel, “when we feel safe enough, we’re going to virtually tap on the truck driver’s shoulder, and say, for the next 100 miles don’t worry, we got it.”

“We have driven on a bunch of roads in California and outside, testing the sensors,” said Ron. “And we’ve done driving with a safety driver in the back seat but the truck driving autonomously, and a couple of miles completely driverless without a driver in the back seat at all.”

http://www.thetruckersreport.com/want-a-driverless-truck-autonomous-truck-company-wants-to-install-self-driving-systems-on-trucks-of-1000-volunteers/
 

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Everyone seems excited about all this autonomous vehicle work. Just think of all the good paying jobs that will be erased. Possibly millions, worldwide, once they perfectly it. Gonna be awesome... :(
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Everyone seems excited about all this autonomous vehicle work. Just think of all the good paying jobs that will be erased. Possibly millions, worldwide, once they perfectly it. Gonna be awesome... :(
http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2016/05/survey-home-time-and-health-cause-drivers-to-quit.aspx


With a worsening driver shortage looming over the trucking industry, a HireRight survey has found that lack of home time and health issues are two leading causes of driver turnover.

HireRight, a provider of recruiting and retention services, announced the findings in its 2016 Transportation Spotlight report, which examines recruiting and retention practices in the transportation industry.

The survey found that 41% of drivers are leaving to spend more time at home and 21% are leaving due to health issues. While fleets are offering safety and accident prevention programs and driver health programs, as many as 45% of respondents to HireRight’s survey did not offer a wellness program at all.

“Driving is a physically demanding profession and getting proper rest, eating right and maintaining an exercise routine is a challenge due to the nature of the job,” said Steven Spencer, manager director of transportation, HireRight. “The transportation industry is realizing that wellness programs and other methods of improving the quality of life for drivers, while relatively new to motor carriers, are effective ways to attract and retain drivers and boost their overall health, well-being and retention.”

To improve retention, fleets are also offering monetary benefits with 51% of fleets offering increased pay, 49% offering upgraded equipment, and 41% instituting recognition and rewards programs. Some non-monetary benefits have also increased in popularity with 57% investing in driver appreciation events and 35% providing flexible work arrangements.

While the majority of drivers often decide whether they will stay with a company within the first six months, only 32% of fleets surveyed are not using retention tactics for new hires.


http://www.npr.org/2015/12/14/459348786/trucking-shortage-drivers-aren-t-always-in-it-for-the-long-haul

The American Trucking Associations says the industry is down 48,000 drivers.

Noel Perry, a trucking industry analyst, says the number is much higher.

"My driver shortage number right now is at 100,000. But it's a relative number," Perry says.

"Trucking is not a 9 to 5 job. It's really a 24-hour operation," says Cody Blankenship, owner of 4BTrucking, which operates out of Waco, Texas. He logs about 100,000 miles a year on the road. A planned run during harvest time this year will keep him away from home, and his young daughters, for a five-week stretch.

For one thing, more than 3 million long-haul truckers work American highways. Perry says the current driver shortage isn't big enough to disrupt shipping all that much — but it is dampening growth, and companies are responding.
 

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I have a trucker in my family who is in great shape, eats well, supports his family and doesn't work like crazy. He delivers and also unloads the truck onsite. Other truckers i know work at UPS and they are healthy. But autonomous local delivery is also in the eyepiece of the autonomous solutions. Billions of annual revenues are on the line to replace healthy drivers, let alone the ones complaining. We have a lot of people out of work on this country who are too lazy or on drugs and cannot pass the drug testing needed to become a competent driver. Don't forget the autonomous taxis and Uber who want to ditch drivers because of cost. There are some green card or offshore IT resources out there who work for 12-15 hours a day getting paid less than truckers do. There are certainly more workers who could fill those empty slots. I think in America, we think trucking is "beneath us" and yet know nothing about the industries. If our folks could get off drugs and off the couch, there are lots of jobs for them. But instead, we give them national welfare and medicare money and quickly put them on disability once they complain too much. Anyway, these trucking firms would quickly replace their labor force with "uncomplaining" computers who need no home time or get back problems from overeating at truck stops and do virtually no exercise. Plus, autonomous trucks can run 24 hours a day versus a single driver limited to 10. What do our kids do when they get out of college with liberal arts degrees and no job? How many have the drive to become a driver? Other than the "chic of the day" uber driver?
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)

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I have a trucker in my family who is in great shape, eats well, supports his family and doesn't work like crazy. He delivers and also unloads the truck onsite. Other truckers i know work at UPS and they are healthy. But autonomous local delivery is also in the eyepiece of the autonomous solutions. ...
Two of our 4 sons are drivers. They both started in the industry as over-the-road drivers. Both are now local drivers and wouldn't return to the OTR side even if the pay was doubled. What Paul quoted in post #4 was exactly what they experienced. The younger of the two thought that he could beat the industry system with the knowledge he gained from his brother's experience. Not!

Fortunately, they both resisted the lure of big bucks offered in the Eagle Ford Shale play a few mile south of us. Some of the same pitfalls existed in that game - weeks of driving without an opportunity to go home. Now, even that game is over for a while. I've got a neighbor out of work now because that sector is on hold. He wasn't a driver, but he was making money hand-over-fist for a couple of years. Installed a swimming pool, bought new trucks - I hope he paid cash for both!

Our sons are happy with their status and the companies where they now work. Thanks to the oil patch sucking in drivers with the lure of high pay, it drove up the bidding for local drivers' pay - which my sons benefited from.

I didn't see this in Paul's post, but did see it in our local paper today.

The engineers think that automating trucks rather than passenger vehicles could be more palatable financially and to regulators. Nationally, trucks drive 5.6 percent of all vehicle miles and are responsible for 9.5 percent of highway fatalities, according to Department of Transportation data.
 

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Everyone seems excited about all this autonomous vehicle work. Just think of all the good paying jobs that will be erased. Possibly millions, worldwide, once they perfectly it. Gonna be awesome... :(
Given the number of tractor trailer wrecks and just plain reckless behavior/bad decisions I see weekly on my commute I don't have a problem with it.

My BIL just got his CDL a few months ago and I've warned him already, earn while you can but have a plan "B" because your job is going away in a few years.

He says 'no way' and thinks I'm kidding but Tesla's auto-drive already has almost a million "driver-hours" of experience they are culling through and once they get it tuned ALL of that knowledge and experience will transmit instantly to each new vehicle,
no learners permit,
no inexperienced teen drivers.

Like it or not, self-drive is going to go away. Insurance companies will see to that with hyper-premiums for human drivers.
 
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