The American Center for Mobility (ACM) has commissioned a workforce study being undertaken by Michigan State University (MSU) and Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) to begin to understand and quantify impacts on today’s transportation jobs.
The study focuses on driving-related jobs including professional truck drivers, taxi drivers and delivery drivers.
“Our goal is to ensure that employees, employers and policymakers are informed about the potential developments, so they can approach them proactively rather than reacting to issues as they arise,” said Soraya Kim, ACM’s Chief Innovation Officer who is leading the education initiative.
“The adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) has the potential to lead to job impacts in the transportation and mobility sector and create a range of new labor opportunities in businesses that develop and implement innovative usage models for CAVs,” said Shelia Cotten, MSU Foundation Professor and Director of the Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research.
The study, led by MSU, will also identify how the future workforce should be trained to provide the skilled jobs that will power the development and deployment of this beneficial technology. The results will be shared this summer.
“The impacts depend largely on the way that the technology will really be introduced and utilized, as well as the readiness and rate of introduction,” said John Maddox, President and CEO of the American Center for Mobility. “No one yet knows if, how, or when jobs will be affected.”
TTI is supporting the study based on its research in truck platooning.
“Connected and automated technologies have the potential to create a safer and less stressful occupation for platooning truck drivers while creating opportunities to be involved with cutting-edge technologies that will change the way freight logistics will be delivered in the future,” said Christopher Poe, Assistant Director, Connected and Automated Transportation Strategy at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Located on the 500-acre historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township, ACM is a global center for testing and validation, product development, education and standards work for CAVs and other technologies.
The U.S. DOT designated proving grounds provides a myriad of real-world environments with the ability to test under varied, yet controlled conditions. Its unmatched range of driving environments and infrastructure includes a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections and roundabouts.
In December, the Center officially opened for business. Testing will occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and developing voluntary national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed onto public roads.
Since summer, ACM has been working with Intertek, its operations and maintenance partner, to make sure the necessary and unique AV protocols, procedures and operations were created and implemented to support safe testing.
In October, ACM signed a memorandum of understanding with 15 colleges and universities in Michigan to collaborate on creating educational pathways to train and prepare students to support automated vehicle testing and implementation.
To date, $110 million has been secured to construct the first two phases, and additional private investment announcements are expected soon. The next phase of construction will begin this spring and will feature an urban driving environment, followed by ACM headquarters and a tech park.
AARP® and Waymo are co-sponsors of the study. Other announcements of support are expected in coming weeks.