Will Driverless Trucks Dominate Canadian Roads In The Future? Here’s Why Truckers Shouldn’t Worry

The possibility of self-driving trucks on Canadian roads has opened up a lively debate among both truck drivers and experts in the transportation industry. 

The spark for the debate was lit when Loblaws Supermarket and Gatik’s pioneering plan to use these vehicles for grocery deliveries was announced.

It took Loblaws and Gatik 2 years to transition to driverless delivery trucks. They needed to do test runs with safety drivers at first. 150,000 self-driving trucks passed without any incidents.


Naturally, this development prompts the question of how this will impact the human drivers. 

After all, it sounds like a daunting prospect for truckers—but are we really on the brink of a driverless truck revolution?

Let’s examine the facts to answer this question.

Why Are Automated Driving Technologies Being Developed?

Man in self-driving car.

Over the years, autonomous driving technologies in logistics have been developed to help stakeholders in many factors, such as:

Worsening Labor Shortage

A shortage of drivers in Canada has caused many drivers to work more than their usual hours. If this persists for many years, autonomous trucks can help alleviate the problem.

Opportunities To Improve Efficiency & Productivity

Driverless trucks don’t get tired and can work longer than human drivers. This means that self-driving trucks can reduce delivery times, allowing companies to move more goods faster.

Possibilities To Enhance Safety

Self-driving vehicles are programmed to obey traffic laws and drive more defensively, which reduces the risk of accidents on the road.

Chances To Improve Reliability And Scheduling Accuracy

Automated systems allow for better scheduling accuracy as delays due to human error become eliminated when self-driving technology is used instead of manual labor in transportation jobs such as long-haul trucking trips across Canada’s vast highways.

Achieve Possible Environmental Benefits

In a 2021 report by the World Economic Forum, it’s estimated that 15% of trucking kilometers are driven without load. Driverless trucks can help reduce this number as they’re programmed to deliver goods more efficiently, on time, and with maximum fuel efficiency.

Why Truckers Don’t Need to Worry About Driverless Trucks?

Trucker checking his phone while parked.

The rise of self-driving trucks does not mean the end for truckers.

Autonomous cars are still in their early stages of development and cannot yet drive independently. 

They still require human drivers to take over in complicated and dangerous situations.

Cost

The cost to operate is also a factor to consider. Autonomous vehicles require expensive technology and components that are not readily available or cost-effective in the Canadian market. 

This could mean driverless trucks will be used for specific routes only for testing, leaving human drivers to handle more complex deliveries where driverless trucks can’t go.

Autonomous Trucking Is No Overnight Feat

Experts can’t predict that self-driving trucks will conquer the roads right away. The transition is a long process that requires the collaboration between manufacturers, regulators and lawmakers.

And even if companies are able to find solutions to all the challenges in autonomous driving, truck platooning or semi-autonomous driving will probably be the norm for a long time.

Truck platooning is a driver-assisted way of driving that involves multiple trucks led by a driver in the front.

The lead truck dictates the movement and speed of the whole convoy while the trailing trucks follow and move at a safe distance.

Take note: the trailing trucks are still being driven by pro drivers, but automation has enabled them to adjust to the lead’s speed with less effort.

Data and Security

Again, driverless deliveries won’t be the norm anytime soon. Automation will happen slowly and ease the stress of truckers. But automation still requires a lot of training and knowledge.

There still needs to be more professional drivers who can interpret the data and decide based on what’s in front of them.

There’s also the issue of hacking. Fully and partially autonomous vehicles are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which means these trucks need strict security measures in place.

Safety and Liability

Autonomous vehicles can still experience glitches and malfunctions, putting driverless trucks in dangerous situations.

This can be a problem, especially with driverless trucks traveling on busy highways with other driver-operated vehicles.

Manufacturers might also be held liable in case of an accident, but this is still debated.

Infrastructure Development

Not all roads in Canada are suitable for driverless trucking.

To be able to deploy driverless trucks on major highways and routes, more infrastructure development is needed.

This will involve adding sensors, signals, and other communication devices that driverless trucks can use to navigate safely.

Government Support

Driverless trucks need the support of government authorities.

The Canadian government will have to push regulations to ensure driverless trucks are safe and secure when used on public roads.

Public Acceptance

Lastly, driverless trucks will need to gain public acceptance.

Fleet owners must adjust to the benefits and consequences of fully-autonomous trucking.

Stakeholders will also need to educate and inform the public about driverless trucks for them to be comfortable with the idea of driverless deliveries.

The Long Road To Fully Autonomous Truck Driving

The bottom line? If you’re an aspiring truck driver, driverless trucking is not something you need to worry about anytime soon. 

The technology is still in its infancy, and experts predict that it will be a while before we see driverless trucks dominate on Canadian roads.

Truckers can rest assured that their jobs are safe and will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

In the meantime, consider improving your driving skills and becoming a certified truck driver. 

This will help you stay ahead of the curve and be ready for when autonomous trucking eventually takes over. 

By leveraging these opportunities, truckers can ensure they remain competitive in the future job market. 

Here at Gennaro Transport Training, we offer the best comprehensive driving courses to help you be job-ready or improve your skills.

With the proper training, you can be confident and ready for any driver job in Alberta. Let’s get trucking!