The Promise and Peril of Self-Driving Trucks

The Promise and Peril of Self-Driving Trucks

February 27, 2018

Self-driving technology promises to revitalize the trucking industry. But increased energy demand and air pollution are possible downsides.

Self-driving technology is making its way onto America’s roads. Companies including Lyft, Ford and Google’s Waymo are investing heavily to develop driverless vehicles and transportation services. Driverless technology is also being developed for the trucking industry, a cornerstone of the economy that moves 70% of manufactured goods yet finds itself challenged by high fuel costs, safety concerns, and a shortage of drivers.

Guest Steve Viscelli, Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center, looks at the potential for driverless trucks to stake their claim on the nation’s highways and create a more efficient transportation system.  He also talks about potential impacts that vast fleets of driverless trucks may have on energy demand and air quality, as well as labor, and the choices policy makers face in balancing these outcomes.

Steve Viscelli is a senior fellow with the Kleinman Center, a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Sociology, and a Robert and Penny Fox Family Pavilion Scholar. He researches policy in the areas of energy efficiency and employment relations. Steve also worked as a truck driver while researching his 2016 book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.

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