Will Automated Vehicles Help or Hurt the Workforce? A New Toyota-Funded Study Hopes To Find Out

road trafficOn paper, automated vehicles sound pretty enticing. Hopping in your car, telling it where you want to go, and then reading a book while your car itself navigates bustling city traffic without human input most certainly has an appeal that goes well beyond it’s own coolness factor.

Self-driving cars can save lives. They can improve the economy and reduce greenhouse emissions. And for people with disabilities who cannot operate a vehicle otherwise, the prospect of automated vehicles is an especially exciting one, offering a level of freedom previously restrained only to the pages of science fiction.

But when you really stop and think about it objectively, automated vehicles do present a number of significant challenges and drawbacks that aren’t apparent at first glance.

One of the bigger ones, at least as far as the economy is concerned, is how automated vehicles might impact the workforce. And now, some researchers are hoping to answer precisely that question.

Preparing the Workforce for Automated Vehicles

Figuring out how automated vehicles will impact the employment of humans is definitely one of those things we should have an answer to in the near future. And thankfully, that’s what one new study is aiming to do.

This week, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced they were contributing $75,000 to the American Center for Mobility (ACM), which has organized a study titled “Preparing the Workforce for Automated Vehicles.” The study is being conducted by Michigan State University, in collaboration with Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute.

The study, which is expected to be released later this year, aims to elaborately answer four key questions: What jobs will be impacted by automated vehicles? Just how much will those jobs be impacted? What new skills will workers need to develop moving forward? And what education and training will those workers need in this new world of self-driving cars?

Researchers hope to understand the workforce impacts of automated vehicles, particularly as they’ll relate to delivery services and taxis. Their goal is to help ensure the workforce adapts to and evolves with these emerging technologies, rather than simply getting steamrolled by them.

“TRI is committed to advancing automated vehicle technology in ways that improve society and individual well-being, and we need to better understand the impact this may have on future jobs and employment,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Toyota Motor Corporation Fellow. “Our participation in this study can help address the societal effects in a meaningful way.”
“Industry involvement is paramount as we undergo this study, especially when we consider the implications on talent and how the potential needs of employers will shift,” said ACM Chief Innovation Officer Soraya Kim. “We thank TRI for their continued commitment and for being a partner to get this important work done.”

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