UMass researchers exploring impact of automation on truck drivers

A team of University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers has received a grant to explore how automation will affect the role of American long-haul truckers.

An interdisciplinary group of researchers led by Shannon Roberts, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, has been awarded nearly $2 million over four years by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Future of Work Program…

“Technology is good at handling consistent situations with predictable, rational people,” Roberts noted. “But humans are not predictable, rational beings. Because of this, technology will not be able to react to everything that might happen on the road. It’s impossible. We will need a person in the truck.”

At the same time, automation can’t make workers feel expendable…

Some of the methods the team plans to use to collect the information include ride-alongs with truckers, participatory design with truckers and workforce development analysis.

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