Teaching the computers: a revolution in driving jobs

Bedfordshire-based CAT Driver Training has been nominated for a Transportation as a Service (TaaS) Technology Award for its innovative Autonomous Safety Driver and Operator Training course.

Conducted at 5G-enabled Millbrook Proving Ground, the nationally recognised programme is designed to help those involved in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) to meet the requirements set out in the government’s new code of practice for automated vehicle trialling.

Specifically, section 4.14 says: “The responsibility for ensuring safety drivers and safety operators have received the appropriate training and are competent lies with the trialling organisation.”

The course asks probing questions, such as: How many of your team are advanced drivers, not just experienced drivers?; How many have been trained in skid control or winter driving techniques?; and how many are vehicle dynamics engineers?

Colin Hoad, chief instructor at CAT Driver Training, said: “Our unique programme was developed to bridge a gap we identified between the world of vehicle testing and the technology start-ups putting safety at the forefront of their CAV development.”

Looking at the bigger picture, should this be taken as evidence to support the view that automation could create as many jobs as it destroys?

Well, a reassuring point in the University of Michigan’s Self-Driving Cars Teach-Out was the likely increase in roles variously described as operators, attendants, concierges or guides.

A report this week in Auto News detailed how two companies in Arizona are leading the way.

Starsky Robotics announced a career progression plan aimed at “retaining valued driver expertise for remote-controlled driving on the first and last mile”, while haulier TuSimple is offering its drivers the opportunity to become “autonomous vehicle driver and operations specialists”.

More initiatives like these might help to allay automation anxiety… and stop people throwing rocks at self-driving test cars.