A self-driving 18-wheeler was tested on the Florida Turnpike earlier this month


  • Photo cred: YouTube.com/StarskyRobotics
The future is here, and if you're a truck driver it's coming for your job.

On June 16, San Francisco-based start-up company Starsky Robotics test-drove its first driverless semi-truck across a 9.4-mile stretch on the Florida Turnpike. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, the truck successfully managed to navigate the road, merge and change lanes, and enter a rest area.

That's cool. But it should also scare the shit out of you.

A widely cited 2013 study from the University of Oxford found that as many as 47 percent of current U.S. jobs are at a risk due to automation over the course of the next several decades.

Even some of the most conservative estimates, such as a January study from the Brookings Institution, says one-quarter of American jobs are at a high risk of being lost to automation in the same timespan.

In particular, the job losses will affect those who drive for a living as automated semi-trucks will eventually be able to blow their way through the night, as compared to the rest hours required under law by human drivers. 

Which brings us back to our main point: The machines are coming. They're already here. And, yes, it'll be the most task-oriented jobs that are at risk.

In fact, Florida may be one of the states hit hardest. Earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that expands the testing of autonomous vehicles.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.