The House Energy and Commerce committee Thursday advanced legislation on a 54-0 vote that would begin the process of changing regulations to allow cars and trucks that operate without human drivers. Similar legislation is being developed in the Senate with rare bipartisan support, an effort supported by automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and Tesla Inc. as well as technology firms Alphabet Inc., Lyft Inc. and others that are developing the vehicles.
Labor unions are urging a slowdown as lawmakers fast track legislation to allow self-driving vehicles on the road, a potential boon to some union jobs and an existential threat to others.
Larry Willis, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Division, a coalition of 32 unions, said Congress is progressing too quickly without understanding the full effects of autonomous vehicles, which “are likely to cause massive job dislocation and impact worker safety.”
One study, by the progressive research group Center for Global Policy Solutions, estimated that a rapid transition to automated vehicles could result in more than 4 million lost jobs in the U.S., with taxi, bus, and truck drivers among the hardest-hit.
* McKinsey estimates that the economic gains of driverless vehicles in the trucking industry could be range from $100-500 billion per year by 2025 (McKinsey 2013). The bulk of these savings would come from the elimination of the wages of the truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Association (2015), the industry employs over 3 million truck drivers, and the automation of driving poses a huge threat to the livelihood of these truck drivers. There is currently a shortage of about 25,000 truck drivers because of the long hours and time away from home (American Trucking Association 2015). Self-driving trucks would simply increase the capacity of logistics companies, allowing for more shipments. The role of employment in trucking would become more technical, and there would be a smaller number of self-driving truck monitors.
Savings in trucking and logistics and increased capacity would be a constant discount for retail and other businesses dealing with the movement of goods.
* Although self driving cars and trucks will cause losses in some industries, the overall impact on the U.S. economy should be positive, as Morgan Stanley estimates an overall potential value of $1.3 trillion annually, or 8% of the entire U.S. GDP (Lewis 2014) just from commuter productivity and savings in collision costs.
* Driver productivity will also rise as a result of the added time that can be used for other tasks, like working during one’s trip to the office. Diamandis (2014) estimates that self-driving cars could save over 2.7 billion unproductive hours in work commutes, generating an annual savings of $447.1 billion per year in the U.S. alone (assuming 90% self driving car penetration). This time savings estimate, combined with $488 billion from collision costs amounts to total savings of $1.1 trillion in the U.S., or 8% of the U.S. GDP, and as much as $5.6 trillion worldwide.
* there are 152 million employed people in the USA. An 8% increase in the economy should result in an offsetting increase in employment in other parts of the economy
* Software constitutes approximately 10% of vehicle value. While influencing many automotive functions, the software-hardware interfaces are largely independent of each other. In automated vehicles, software components will become coordinated into a central, universal operating system, to control the powertrain, infotainment, and autonomous features, and may eventually represent 40% of the car value (Jonas et al. 2014). Jonas et al. (2014) expect that larger auto manufacturers, larger suppliers, and leading technology companies (like Google, Apple, and Microsoft) will be responsible for such production.
* The public transportation and taxi industries account for $66 billion and $20 billion in annual revenue, respectively (IBISWorld 2015, IBISWorld 2016). Ride sharing apps have already caused a 6.7 percent annual decrease in taxi service between 2011 and 2016 (IBISWorld 2016) and decreases as large as 30 percent in Los Angeles and 65 percent in San Francisco (Nelson 2016, Kerr 2014).With the addition of self-driving cars to ride sharing services, a 50 percent decrease in taxi revenues would cause a shift in $10 billion in revenue toward ride sharing. Ride sharing and CAVs are not as direct of a substitute for public transportation, and public transportation is less expensive compared to private driving services like taxis, so the shift would likely not be as pronounced. A 25 percent shift in public transportation revenues, however, still represents $16.5 billion in decreased public transportation revenue.
* There are approximately 105 million for-pay parking spaces in the U.S. and approximately 720 million spaces including the non-paid commercial spaces, a home space, and a work space for each vehicle (Chester 2010). At an average land value of $6,300 per parking space, the total land value of parking spaces is $4.5 trillion (VTPI 2017). If the amount of parking decreases by just 1% each year, $45 billion in property value will be freed annually. Parking will become more efficient and demand will decrease with the advent of self driving cars, opening up land for other uses. The commercial real estate industry generates $931 billion in annual revenue (IBISWorld 2016), so the $45billion in land could provide opportunity for a 5% increase in land development revenue.
* Self-driving cars will cause a 22 percent increase in highway capacity at 50 percent market penetration, 50 percent capacity increase at 80 percent market penetration, and 80 percent increase at 100 percent market capacity.
* Easier travel means greater demand for travel, however. Fully automated vehicles will enable children, elderly, and disabled people greater access to meaningful destinations and activities at all times of day.
“If anyone needs to be at the table for a discussion on self-driving technology, it’s the package car driver, the long-haul truck driver and the taxi driver,” James P. Hoffa, general president of the 1.4-million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents those drivers, said in a statement.
Labor unions successfully lobbied for the House to include a 10,000-pound weight limit in the legislation. That means automated semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles without drivers can’t be deployed the way passenger vehicles would be under the bill.
The bill passed last week by the house committee allows autonomous vehicle testers to significantly ramp up testing of cars that don’t comply with safety regulations, from 2,500 to 100,000. It would grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sweeping powers to create new safety standards for self-driving cars and would prohibit state legislatures from passing their own laws that oversee the design and operation of autonomous cars.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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