4 Jobs Autonomous Cars Will Create, Not Destroy

There is a lot of talk about how the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology will destroy jobs, displace truck drivers, and shake up the entire U.S. economy.

But what about the jobs autonomous vehicles will create?

There is huge potential for new jobs that could be formed to serve the automotive industry and the market that surrounds it — such as mechanics, cyber security, or even new kinds of drivers.

And while it can be hard to determine exactly what these jobs will entail without having fully autonomous vehicles — or even level 3 AVs — on the road yet, Mobility Buzz researched what careers may arise to adjust to the needs of AV technology:

1. Teleoperators

While teleoperations is an already established field in which a system or machine is operated at a distance or remotely, the idea of a car teleoperator is novel. At the AUVSI New England Automated Vehicle Summit in Boston, nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma suggested teleoperations could be a future job.

Iagnemma told Mobility Buzz that he envisioned a person who is available on-demand to take control of an autonomous vehicle from a remote area, should something go awry and the passenger is unable to take control. Over time, as the technology develops, a teleoperator could even manage anywhere from five to 10 cars personally, he added.

2. Autonomous Vehicle Technicians

Skilled technicians will be needed to maintain and repair autonomous vehicles, Iagnemma said. “Servicing an autonomous vehicle will potentially be a fairly sophisticated operation, not menial labor; [it’s] something that will require a skilled technician,” he said. “So that is another role that is likely to be created that doesn’t exist today.”

The technician will likely be equal to today’s auto mechanic, rather than an engineer, Brad Templeton, chairman emeritus of Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Mobility Buzz. Additionally, jobs within vehicle servicing — such as full-service gas stations or electric charging — may see an increase when autonomous cars without passengers need to be refueled, he said.

3. Interim Autonomous Car Operators

Currently, road testing of autonomous vehicles is limited to pre-defined routes; outside of the route, a vehicle can operate like a typical car. During this period of increased — but not full — automation will require rideshare drivers who know how to operate an autonomous vehicle within a designated area and take control when the vehicle leaves that area, Templeton said.

Since rideshare companies like Uber are key figures in the development of autonomous vehicles, it makes sense they would want to be able to make use of interim autonomous car operators as soon as possible, and therefore require drivers with more knowledge of how to operate an autonomous vehicle. While this job would be more of an expansion on current rideshare jobs than a brand new position, it could last for years as fully autonomous cars are still considered decades away.

4. Cyber Security Car Crash Investigators

While automotive crash investigation is a field that already exists, the component of cyber security will be a new element. Current investigations occur in two ways: police investigations and independent investigations.

Police investigate an accident to determine if any criminal action took place. For instance, police will investigate whether a driver was speeding, violating hours-of-service, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if there were mechanical violations.

Independent investigators are typically hired by the insurance companies or attorneys of the parties involved in an accident. Independent investigators analyze the causes of the accident so that liability and/or financial responsibility can be determined.

But with great concern surrounding the safety and security of computers required for autonomous vehicles, a hybrid job could arise to address whether security tampering occurred — should an autonomous car crash — to determine foul play, terrorism, or defective technology.

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