Autonomous semi-trucks driving through Arizona and Texas

With supply chain disruptions and a driver retention crisis looming, experts are turning toward autonomous semi-trucks as a possible solution. Waymo, an autonomous driving tech company, is running a pilot program for autonomous semis in Arizona and Texas. The big blue semis have been traveling on Loop 202 and I-10 in the Phoenix area, David Caltabiano reported for 3TV/CBS5.

“The last year really put a spotlight on the truck driver shortage,” Waymo executive John Verdon told Caltabiano. “It’s an area where our technology can help immensely.”

Verdon said Waymo technology is already being used for some trucking companies who are having a hard time finding or retaining truck drivers, especially for OTR routes.

“We are very much focused on automating the long-haul highway driving; that’s the hardest trucking job to recruit, given that a driver has to spend days, weeks away from their family,” Verdon said.

This is the way of the future, according to Arizona State University Supply Chain Professor Hitendra Chaturvedi. He told CBS5 that soon enough, truck drivers will no longer be needed.

“That is going to happen, and anyone who thinks it won’t happen is entirely wrong; they’re like an ostrich with their head in the sand,” Chaturvedi said. “In my opinion, it’s going to be a great thing, it’s going to cut costs of maintenance, it’s going to increase reliability, it’s going to increase efficiency.”

Technological advancements like Waymo’s autonomous trucks will only improve the transportation industry, according to Chaturvedi. He said they will alleviate many of the issues in the supply chain we see today. And while there will be job loss for truck drivers, he said new tech always brings new jobs.

Right now, the autonomous trucks in Arizona and Texas have people inside the cab, but in the coming years, no one will be inside. The first fleet will drive across the southwest in “the coming years.” Chaturvedi said he expects job loss from this but said new tech always brings new jobs.

Story courtesy of 3TV/CBS5.