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Labor Unions Urge Lawmakers to Pump the Brakes on Self-Driving Tech

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【Summary】Labor unions are urging lawmakers to slow down the fast tracking of autonomous technology, as some believe Congress doesn’t understand the ramifications behind the tech.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 10, 2017 9:00 AM PT
Labor Unions Urge Lawmakers to Pump the Brakes on Self-Driving Tech

Self-driving vehicles have become extremely popular recently, as automakers and technology companies see numerous benefits to the automobiles. Most importantly, autonomous cars are expected to reduce the number of accidents and automotive-related fatalities. The vehicles will also provide individuals that aren't capable of driving a car a way to get around. There are various upsides to an autonomous future, but there are multiple downsides, as well. 

The Many Downsides To Autonomous Cars

The ever-changing world of technology will make driverless vehicles have extremely short lifespans. Automakers and tech companies will continuously one-up one another, causing the other's vehicle to become obsolete and redundant. Self-driving cars will also be extremely expensive, which is something that can be seen with the Tesla Model S

The Model S 75, which is a Level 2 autonomous vehicle, costs $70,700, including all of the fees. Adding Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability, though, bumps the price of the vehicle to $78,700. With the average price of a new car costing $33,000, paying nearly double for a car that has autonomous capabilities will be too expensive for the majority of drivers. 

While autonomous vehicles have a lot to offer, there's a lot that's not known about the cars when it comes to jobs. Larry Willis, president of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Division, a coalition of 32 unions, told Bloomberg that Congress doesn't fully comprehend the full effects of driverless vehicles and is progressing too quickly, which "are likely to cause massive job dislocation and impact worker safety." 

"While the committee has tried to improve this bill, more needs to be done to make sure we adopt the right regulatory and labor policies governing the introduction of autonomous vehicles in to the economy," stated Willis in an email with the outlet. 

Self-Driving Cars Will Lead To Job Losses

According to Bloomberg, a study completed by Center for Global Policy Solutions, a progressive research group, the transition to moving to an autonomous future could result in the termination of approximately 4 million jobs in the U.S. Most of the job losses will involve drivers from the truck, taxi, and bus industries.  

"If anyone needs to be at the table for a discussion on self-driving technology, it's the package car driver, the long-haul truck driver and the taxi driver," said James P. Hoffa, general president of the 1.4-million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in a statement. 

To ensure that Congress has a grasp on autonomous technology before putting millions of drivers out of work, union officials want lawmakers to keep autonomous legislative to passenger cars and not spread to commercial vehicles. As Bloomberg points out, labor unions successfully lobbied for the House to include a 10,000-pound weight limit in legislation, forcing Congress to create a different bill to allow self-driving semi-trucks. 

"We definitely value the recognition of the House in seeing that commercial motor vehicles should be kept completely out of this discussion for now," said Sam Loesch, a legislation representative with the Teamsters. "They create their own host of challenges." 

Putting autonomous cars on the road may be a straight-forward process, but the same can't be said for self-driving semi-trucks which are a little more complicated.

via: Bloomberg

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