AV Stakeholders: Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity

One of the most discussed considerations with respect to autonomous vehicles, safety aside, is the impact an autonomous future may have on job opportunities. Only a year ago, Goldman Sachs Economic Research published a report which suggested that, at the peak of autonomous vehicles saturation, we could become witnesses to a yearly loss of 300,000 jobs in the U.S. driving industry.

Today, the Verge reported that a number of major AV manufacturers and stakeholders in the transportation/freight industry have come together to form a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organisation: the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO). 

The list includes Waymo, Uber, and Lyft; Fedex and the American Trucking Association, as well as traditional car manufacturers, such as Ford, Toyota, and Daimler. The formation of the organisation as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit means it is able to lobby the government, as well as accept donations. Although it is not clear what the long-term goal of the organisation is, a 6-month plan has been publicised, which includes:

a. Development of a well-rounded and data-based understanding of the impact and implications of autonomous vehicles on the future of work 

b. Solicitation of the expertise, concerns, and aspirations of a variety of interested parties

c. Raising awareness of existing and near-term career opportunities for workers during the transition to a new autonomous vehicle-enabled economy.

According to the group's executive director, Ms. Maureen Westphal, who is quoted in this article from the Verge:

Concern for the safety of workers and the public is paramount to PTIO, and safe deployment of autonomous vehicle technology is fundamental to securing better job opportunities for workers, so we plan to engage with a variety of concerned stakeholders already having conversations and planning for this transition to an autonomous vehicle future.
— Maureen Westphal, as quoted by the Verge

Interestingly, there has been no explicit mention of re-training drivers, which is often seen as the solution to an industry that will be transitioning to fully-autonomous mode in the -presumably- near future. It could be assumed, though, that by raising awareness of alternative career opportunities, the PTIO can open doors for those who will be left jobless after the autonomous revolution begins. 

Andrew Kyprianides