Cain: Preparing for Our AV Future in St. Louis

by Hilary Cain, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, Toyota; Chair, Partnership for Transportation Innovation & Opportunity (PTIO)

This week, the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO) joined Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and BioSTL for “A Dialogue on Vehicle Automation and Community Impacts,” a town hall-style event at The MOTO Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.

With the nation preparing for the deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs), this discussion engaged Midwestern leaders in a dialogue about the full range of the impacts of AVs, including workforce implications.

At Toyota, we recognize that there are a variety of benefits our society is likely to realize from vehicle automation – benefits like safer roadways, greater access to mobility, and increased convenience. We also realize, however, that the technology may bring challenges and that, among these potential challenges, is the impact that it may have on our workforce.

Understanding and addressing the workforce impact is what drove Toyota to join our colleagues at the American Trucking Associations, Daimler, Fedex, Ford, Lyft, Uber, and Waymo, to form PTIO.

PTIO was founded on the principles of innovation, knowledge, transparency, and action.

  • We support innovation and progress in the transportation sector;
  • We seek to develop a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of the impact of autonomous vehicles on the future of work;
  • We are eager to foster open communication on this issue and to engage in constructive dialogue with policymakers, stakeholders, and impacted communities; and
  • We are committed to promoting meaningful solutions for the workforce that can address or mitigate the challenges and enhance or grow the opportunities.

In summary, PTIO is committed to fostering commonsense adoption of AV technology, but we are equally committed to finding data-driven and evidence-based solutions that constructively address the technology’s impact on the workforce.

The solutions cannot be data-driven and evidence-based without data or evidence. To that end, PTIO recently released a guidance document outlining our research priorities. These priorities will help us develop the understanding that we need to responsibly plan for the future. They are focused in three main areas.

First, examining the workforce transition. Although some research has already been conducted on the extent and timing of potential workforce impacts, PTIO believes additional research is needed in some key areas, including into the new workforce opportunities that may arise when AVs are deployed and how impacts may vary by region.

Second, understanding training needs and delivery. There is much we need to learn and understand about the training and retraining needed to help with the transition, including which training programs and program components will be most effective and what deters people from taking advantage of training programs that are already in place and available to them.

Finally, studying quality of life improvements. Additional research should be conducted to get a better understanding of whether and how AV technology can improve working conditions in existing occupations and potentially meet the needs of people whose career opportunities are currently limited by lack of transportation.

Right now, PTIO is in listening and learning mode. We are reaching out to stakeholders throughout the country to advance this conversation and engage in a dialogue about the path forward. And that is what brought us to St. Louis this week.

Missouri is a state with a strong history of collaboration among business, labor, and the public sector and has an active and engaged workforce, which includes 140,000 trucking industry jobs (representing 1 in 17 jobs in the state) and many others who make a living as bus drivers, taxi drivers, and chauffeurs.

The transition to an autonomous vehicle future will not happen overnight, so we have time to be thoughtful and deliberate in our approach. However, at PTIO, we do feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to meet the needs of transportation workers and impacted communities – in Missouri and throughout the rest of the country – during this time of change.

We recognize that success for workers is dependent on our collective ability to confront the outstanding questions being raised in local communities today about our long-term future. But unless we work together, we cannot achieve our goal of ensuring career opportunities for affected workers.

PTIO is focused on transforming ideas into actions – working with communities in Missouri and nationwide to advance autonomous vehicle technology in ways that improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for all Americans.

Find related media updates from PTIO here.