For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Autonomous Vehicles, Mobility, and Employment Policy: The Roads Ahead"

by Leonard, John J; Mindell, David A; Stayton, Erik L (2020)


Fully autonomous cars, trucks, and buses, able to operate across wide geographical areas with no drivers necessary, would revolutionize ground transportation. The number of accidents and fatalities could drop significantly. Time that people waste stuck in traffic could be recovered for work or leisure. Urban landscapes would change, requiring less parking and improving safety and efficiency for all. New models for the distribution of goods and services—the “physical internet”—would emerge as robotic vehicles move people and objects effortlessly through the world, on demand. We might also see human drivers, relieved of the attention burdens of driving, liberated to clog the streets and pollute the air with many more miles traveled. We might face cities congested with autonomous delivery robots. People might abandon public transit for comfortable autonomous bubbles, leading to a collapse of public infrastructure. Millions of Americans who earn a living making, driving, and supporting automobiles could be out of work. Automated driving technologies have promised to disrupt urban mobility for a long time. Especially since companies began announcing major breakthroughs after 2010, automated driving technologies have begun to raise fears of mass unemployment in transit systems and mobility-related industries like trucking. This research brief considers the current state of automated driving technologies, including driver assistance systems and highly automated vehicles (AVs), as well as their potential implications for mobility and employment. Broader impacts, including the interplay with transit and land-use and environmental consequences are also briefly considered.


Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automated Vehicles, Transport, Drivers



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