User-agent: Mediapartners-Google* Disallow: Trucks World News: FROM COWBOYS TO ROBOTS * USA: "... Bunch of rude drivers. I could crush them because they're acting like an idiots"

May 28, 2017

FROM COWBOYS TO ROBOTS * USA: "... Bunch of rude drivers. I could crush them because they're acting like an idiots"

* Maryland - Truckers wary of autonomous rigs

--- Truckers are by turns dismissive and wary of the technology revolution that might alter their role or even remove them from the cab someday. A recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration says autonomous vehicles will transform the trucking industry before self-driving vehicles move into the consumer market, largely because there are bigger financial incentives to save on labor and other costs such as fuel... If that, truckers would work more like airline pilots, maneuvering big rigs onto the highway and then flipping on the autopilot for most of the trip, taking over again only when they have to get off the main route. But most analysts also agree that the transformation will occur step by step, with driver-assisted trucks arriving long before driverless trucks... That's welcome news for truckers, even if for most of them the romance of the open road was always a bit of a put-on. The lonesome cowboy, barreling down the freeway to the rhythm of the wheels and country music, staying a step ahead of staties and speed traps with the CB radio, and finding some love at the next truck stop with friendly waiter and a piece of pie and a cup of joe — that person exists, or used to... But the truth is also more mundane and, occasionally, dark: for all the camaraderie of truckers, most are solitary souls who find themselves bored to death on the endless Interstate. Riding the rigs means fighting sleep and strained eyes; riding out cramps and kidney-punishing roads; occasionally getting jacked up on stimulants or running tighter-than-ever schedules to beat the logbooks; and feeling not just lonesome but lonely. And of course there are all those four-wheelers out there speeding, tailgating, cutting in front, flipping the bird or not paying attention to anything except their smartphones. And now robots ???... In interviews, several truckers expressed concern that theirs will be the next industry disrupted by job-killing technology, and jobs that generally provide decent salaries for people who skipped college. More than 1.7 million people make their living driving heavy trucks or tractor-trailers. In 2016, the mean salary for a trucker was $41,340 a year, which was better than bus and taxi drivers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many, trucking offered a path up from of the working class...

(Photo II - Allen Barker's "I love the road") 

 ... Allen Barker is an over-the-road trucker who also lines up his runs so that he's generally home on weekends. He knows the downside of driving, like those trips when he was pushing himself so hard he barely slept... Four-wheelers especially seem oblivious to the dangers around them, he said. Just that morning he had a close call with a distracted driver who was talking on a cell phone... He still loves what he does, and loves the freedom of the highway... "I got eight kids. It's good to be home. But it's good to get away," Barker said. "Sometimes you need to get away, to think about things. I love the road" ... 
(Photo I, by Fredrik Kunkle/The Washington Post: Rigs lined up for fuel at the Pilot truck stopoutside Hagerstown, MD, USA) - The Washington Post/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by Fredrick Kunkle - May 23, 2017

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