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April 28, 2017 12:00 PM, EDT

Senate Funding Leaders Ask Fed Watchdog to Review Effects of Autonomous Tech on Truckers

Daimler Trucks North America

Rapid advancements in autonomous vehicle technology present the potential for machines to replace people in the workplace.

The top transportation funding leaders in the Senate asked the Government Accountability Office during the week of April 24 to determine how this technology could affect, specifically, the 2 million Americans who currently work as truck drivers.

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“In the near future, automated vehicles may be used to provide personal transit services, similar to taxis, for individuals or small groups. However, their use in providing reliable freight transit may be adapted sooner — possibly, as predicted by researchers, in less than a decade,” Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, on the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, wrote to GAO on April 25.

“The transition to the greater use of automated vehicles raises questions about the future of our national and regional economies and workforce,” the senators added.

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The senators indicated they’d like to know from GAO: To what extent is the adoption of autonomous technology expected to affect jobs? What is known about differences in skills and training likely needed by truckers, and how are federally funded employment and training programs preparing to assist truckers?