East Tennessee trucking teachers wary of driverless vehicle technology

Oct. 27, 2016: As major corporations invest in self-driving technology, some drivers whose job it is to spend time on the roads are keeping a close eye on the technology.

At the Tennessee Truck Driving School, about 20 students are currently learning the ins and outs of big rigs.

Over three weeks students will learn safety and how to handle these massive rides on the roadways, especially in reverse.

Right now, there's plenty of talk going on in classes after seeing Anheuser Busch and self-driving car maker Otto team up to ship 51,000 cans of Budweiser across Colorado in a self-driving semi. Instructors are understandably excited, but concerned about driver safety with a computer program controlling a truck.

"The driver wants to move his seat around, what if right then, the computer goes out? Can the driver take control soon enough to take control,” asked instructor Robert Taliaferro.

The school's Director of Education Greg Bisek shares similar concerns.

"In this industry safety is top concern, these vehicles have a lot of weight a lot of momentum and they don’t stop when they hit something,” explained Bisek.

But he doesn't think this technology will be impacting their industry anytime soon.

"If this is something that becomes perfected than it would be taking jobs from drivers, but I personally feel if it does come to that it's going to be a long ways down the road because this is also a liability issue,” Bisek said.

Adding more technology to assist drivers is something instructors believe would help everyone on the road.

"Automatic braking, object detection - things like that I could definitely see being incorporated into this,” said Bisek.

Those at the truck driving school say they're not concerned quite yet, because there will always be a need to transport goods.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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