The coming of autonomous trucking conjures a vision of future unemployment for, well, millions of truckers. But maybe not—here, courtesy of Freightwaves, are some thoughts about how the self-driving future might generate a lot of shorter-run driving jobs for, well, human beings.

Self-driving trucking startup Ike has released an economic analysis showing that instead of eliminating truck driving jobs, Ike’s approach to automation shifts the task from long-haul to short-haul jobs for drivers.

The study, conducted by Yale economist Dr. Charles Hodgson, suggests that 210,000 long-haul driving jobs could be replaced by automation by 2030. But the model also finds Ike’s approach could create nearly 140,000 local truck driving jobs during that same period.

Further mitigating the losses from the long-haul sector, Hodgson’s analysis also projects 78,000 retirements from that sector of the industry in the next 10 years.

“The first thing I get asked at job interviews, barbeques, is this question: ‘Aren’t you putting truck drivers out of work?’” says Ike co-founder and CEO Alden Woodrow.
“There’s this idea of the robotic apocalypse. But if you make a reasonable set of assumptions and apply the approach we are taking to trucks, we think there could be a pretty good outcome for drivers.”

Kearney says that the job will not go away during your lifetime, instead it will become more important. Training will move the driver of today to be the operator of the truck, the freight, the delivery, the regulations and more. Enhanced tools may include the management of the truck or multiple trucks. Who will manage the delivery of freight? The driver? Or the manager of the vehicle and everything about it? The job does not go away–it just becomes more important.

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