Photo: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner

Convergence of technologies will transform transportation

Jan. 26, 2018
Michigan’s governor believes automation will eventually eliminate truck driver jobs.

WASHINGTON D.C. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) believes the transportation of people and goods both stand to gain “tremendous opportunities” as a variety of technologies – from electric powertrains to automated driving systems – “transform the world of mobility as we know it.”

Speaking at the 2018 Washington Auto Show, Snyder – in the last year of his two terms as Michigan’s governor – noted that greater safety and efficiency are the biggest benefits from this “technological transformation” of transportation.

“There are too many [vehicle] accidents, too many people killed, and it’s not getting better,” he said. “Connected and autonomous vehicles will save lives.”

In terms of efficiency, the data from connected vehicles can be used to better manage traffic flows, he said – reducing congestion and alleviating stress on the nation’s “aging and crumbling infrastructure.”

As an aside, Snyder added that addressing infrastructure issues from a legislative perspective “is hard to do. It took me five years to get something done [at the state level in Michigan] and I failed the first time around. But we need to keep moving forward. We’ve underinvested in our [transportation] infrastructure.”

Indeed, to help better focus its vehicle industry on those issues, the Governor and Legislature created the 21-member Michigan Council on Future Mobility back in late 2016, to provide recommendations regarding changes to state policy to the Wolverine state  continues to be the world leader in automated, driverless, and connected vehicle technology.

Yet Snyder also highlighted a number of challenges that will develop from this ongoing “mobility revolution,” especially the “impact of economic disruption” caused by job losses.

“Commercial delivery drivers and truck drivers; those jobs will be around for a long time. But eventually they will go away” as vehicles become automated, he said. “So let’s not wait for that crisis to develop. This is not trivial.”

Other issues that will need addressing include: cyber security, to ensure connected and autonomous vehicle systems do not get hacked; insurance policy issues, in terms of deciding who is liable when and if a self-driving vehicle crashes; and data privacy, so connected vehicle information is used “in a safe way.”

Snyder added that there are “big generational differences” regarding data privacy.

“Older people tend to be very concerned about their personal information, whereas younger people post the dumb things they do on the Internet themselves,” he said. “There’s a whole different dimension regarding data privacy we have to deal with.”

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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