Walmart: Driverless Trucks In 2021

in LeoFinance2 months ago

There is a lot of talk about autonomous vehicles. The likes of Elon Musk and others in the automobile industry talk a great deal about it. Presently, Tesla, Waymo, and Uber are all pushing ahead to try and achieve Leve 5 autonomy. Many predict a future when there will be "robo-taxis" delivering people like cargo to their destinations.

The estimates of when that will take place vary greatly. However, it is agreed that it will not be any time soon. Even when the technology is available, it still will require approval of the regulators.

There is one area that is advancing more rapidly.

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Autonomous trucks are making progress to the point that Walmart, the United States' largest retailer, is going to introduce "driverless" trucks in 2021.

This is not a full roll out mind you but rather a testing of autonomous trucks without safety drivers.

Over the last few year, many start ups developed the technology for autonomous truck driving. So far, the tests done were with a safety driver in place. These drivers were able to take over control at any moment.

Moving to trucks sans the safety drivers is a big step forward.

Over the last couple years, thousands of miles were compiled by the technology.

Gatik, which is based in Palo Alto and Toronto, outfitted several multitemperature box trucks with sensors and software to enable autonomous driving. Since last year, those trucks have been operating on a two-mile route between a “dark store” (a store that stocks items for fulfillment but isn’t open to the public) and a nearby Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas. Since then, the vehicles have racked up 70,000 miles in autonomous mode with a safety driver.

The aspiration to take this to the next level is a radical turn in the realm of trucking and cargo delivery.

Presently, there is a driver shortage. Obviously, implementing this technology will help to offset the shortfall. However, it only stands to reason that, over time, the technology will start to eat into existing jobs.

This might be down the road a bit since we are looking at things still in the experimental stage.

Next year, the companies intend to start incorporating fully autonomous trucks into those deliveries. And they plan on expanding to a second location in Louisiana, where trucks with safety drivers will begin delivering items from a “live” Walmart Supercenter to a designated pickup location where customers can retrieve their orders. Those routes, which will begin next year, will be longer than the Arkansas operation — 20-miles between New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana.

Source

Once again, we see another example of how what was once thought as Sci-Fi technology is getting closer to a reality.

They key is the financial impact is expected to be enormous. This is a $700+ billion industry. Walmart alone employs over 8,600 drivers. In other words, at stake is hundreds of billions of dollars.

It is also another example of jobs at risk. According to Business Insider, in 2017, trucking employed near 6% of the entire U.S. workforce.

Many discuss the driving of trucks in town. Certainly, this is a challenge and nobody claims that it is an easy task.

However, the future vision, at least in the medium term, is that autonomous trucks will be used for long-haul, highway driving. There will be a pick up point where a driver is then added to do the around town delivery.

No matter what the direction, there is little doubt we are nearing the time when we see autonomous vehicles being put into operations.

Walmart intends on having driverless trucks on the road in 2021.

Image from article linked.


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This post makes me think of that Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a trucker and Bart goes out with him. They discover the "secret" auto pilot mode for truck driving and end up sitting out on the hood while it is barreling down the road. I think you are right in saying that it is all going to be dependent on the regulators. I think a lot of people are looking at these crashes that happen and throwing up red flags, but they fail to realize just as many or more crashes happen when someone is manually driving.

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Automation is a major boom to productivity. Imagine the ability to move people and cargo around basically by machine.

It will really add to things. Couple this with more regional manufacturing due to 3D printing and such.

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Game changer for sure!

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I just watched the Lex Fridman podcast and the guest was Georg Heartz, one of the most brilliant minds out there.
He spoke a lot regarding challanges every startup has to deal with when trying to build fully autonomus vehicle.
For the most part it ends up completly relying on how other participants act on the road, and if something unpredictable heppens, it can't give a proper reaponse.
That's why I'm a bit surprised.

But yeah, it's inevitable.

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That is why I think you will see human driving outlawed rather quickly once most vehicles have the capability.

Humans, in the scenario you mentioned, are the problem.

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A lot of people mention the safesty of driverless vehicles, but I think it maybe even safer. The amount of camera's and detection systems these cars have nowadays is amazing. You don't have as many eyes as a driver and this certainly comes in handy when you drive in crowded areas.
During the corona we see an enormous increase in package deliveries. The drivers are under an enormous pressure and sometimes driving like maniacs over here and almost every van they drive is damages.
So I think it will even improve the safety.

This is not the only sector that's losing jobs to automation. We have to find a way to solve the issue that there aren't enoug jobs for everyone in the future.

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A lot of people mention the safesty of driverless vehicles, but I think it maybe even safer.

These are going to be hundreds of times safer than human drivers. People drive like idiots.

This is one of those things that, in time, computers will be able to do better than humans.

It wont even be close.

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I'm a little skeptical about autonomous vehicles because I still think there is a lot to improve until they really become a viable (and especially, safe) option for people or some specifics types of job.

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That is why they are not live today. They do require more work.

Level4 autonomy has not been reached let alone level 5.

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I don't think this will come to India in next 30 years as Drivers Union will start protesting against it.

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One thing that was proven across the world, unions lose out in the end.

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That is what is happening with Farmer's union in India, if you are familiar with the protests going on here.

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I'm not sure I can rely on a driverless car: even if the tests are positive at the moment, it's a strange feeling not being able to drive and not being responsible for driving.

But I guess it's just a matter of habit. I have read that some metro trains in the world are already without a driver

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You ever fly on a plane. It is on autopilot most of the time.

Same with trains.

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This is going to bring about mixed reactions. On one hand, the technology will be seen as record-breaking but on the other hand, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs.

This is certainly good news for some and a very bad one for others

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Technology is going to take out a lot of jobs.

Many expect that it will create many more. However, I think the speed and breadth of this movement is going to make it tough for many to get involved with the new skills require.

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I believe technology aims at making life easier and by making it easier, it also serves to cut costs.

I second your view on people losing their jobs due to technological advancement.

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Technology does make us more advanced.

It is good to see what is happening in spite of some of the drawbacks.

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Yeah. The drawbacks are pointers worth noting too as they will help make the next invention almost free of error or set back

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Bang, I did it again... I just rehived your post!
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thought they would've been further along than they are.. and we'll see how easy a time they have with potential accidents that might take place, maybe wont' be as quick a job sweep as has been prev painted for the tech🤔

Well, damn. I was thinking of retiring with a pension and then becoming a driver until I could collect social security. I might just have to change employers in the same line of work.