Self-driving trucking companies aren't immune to the human labor shortage impacting the trucking industry.
Two upstarts are working to ensure they develop and retain the human work force needed to keep their automated trucks rolling. TuSimple and Starsky Robotics this week outlined plans to start programs and career paths to meet those needs.
TuSimple said Thursday it has worked with Pima Community College to co-develop a first-of-its-kind certificate program for truck drivers that would confer upon graduates a title of autonomous vehicle driver and operations specialist.
Students must have their Class A commercial driver's license to enter the program, which consists of five classes that cover autonomous vehicles, industrial safety, computer hardware components, electrical systems and transportation and traffic management.
Registration for the classes begins in August, and the program will be offered starting in September. Pima Community College is in Tucson, Ariz., near TuSimple's operations hub. Graduates will receive hiring preference at the company, its executives said.
School officials say this is merely the first iteration of the program, and it will evolve to meet business needs.
Also this week, Starsky Robotics unveiled what it called a "career progression plan" for drivers. The three-step plan takes truckers from traditional over-the-road jobs today to positions as safety drivers operating autonomous trucks in Florida or Texas to future roles in remote-driving services.
Both companies have footholds in present-day and future-minded commercial trucking.