American Center for Mobility report says AVs will create a shift in workforce demands

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The American Center for Mobility (ACM) has released a new report on the affect autonomous vehicles (AVs) will have on the country’s driver workforce, and has also announced the appointment of Kirk Steudle (below) as its interim president and CEO.

According to the new ACM-commissioned report, despite concerns that a rise in AVs will displace significant numbers of truckers in the USA, only a modest number of truck driving jobs, if any, will be affected.

However, the study notes that while significant numbers of AVs will not be deployed until the latter half of the 2020s, at that point, some displacement of passenger car-based driving jobs could occur, mainly among taxicab drivers.

Led by Michigan State University (MSU) and supported by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), the research explains that due to existing truck driver worker shortages, and the belief that automated technology will largely support drivers instead of replacing them, truckers are not likely to be displaced in large numbers during the next 10 years.

The report also found that limousine and bus/transit drivers who are executing services that necessitate face-to-face interaction or passenger assistance, such as luxury services and paratransit, are less likely to be displaced by AVs in the foreseeable future. These drivers will likely undergo training to learn how to use the new supportive technology.

Based on the report’s findings, ACM and the study authors recommend that the specific skillsets needed to facilitate the adoption of AVs are identified, and training established to meet those needs. Additional research is required to quantify the positive financial impact of AV technology on the economy, and its potential for job creation.

“Automated vehicle technology could incorrectly be viewed as a change that will eliminate driving jobs; however, the more nuanced assessment is that over the next decade the innovation will foster broader societal changes resulting in shifts in the workplace and workforce demands,” said Professor Shelia Cotten, from MSU, who led the research.

“Additionally, this level of advanced technology has the potential to lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in the engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity and vehicle ‘monitoring’ areas. Based on data collected from industry experts during the study, there is already a significant demand in several of these areas.”

The board of the ACM, a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) designated testing and proving ground for connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), has announced that Kirk Steudle will serve as its unpaid interim CEO and president, in addition to his role as the director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

While not being a candidate for the permanent position, Steudle will shepherd the organization through transition while a national search is conducted to hire a permanent chief executive. Although no reasons have been given for his departure, the ACM board has expressed its appreciation for the efforts of John Maddox in launching the organization.

An industry veteran, Steudle has been with MDOT since 1987. Widely respected, he is a national leader in the development of CAV technology, and has served stints as chairman of ITS America and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). Steudle is also a past-president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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