Trucks

Long-defiant truckers are forced into conformity

Truck carrying lumber in the snow
Photo: Eric Chretien/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

For a century and longer, the individualist quality in U.S. workers has been falling away as Americans have moved to the city and labor become more about big companies and playing well in the sandbox. Now, some of the last loner purists are being forced to conform, too.

The transformation of some of the few surviving archetypal individualists — doctors, farmers, and now truck drivers — is powered in part by three of the most potent forces today: automation, monopoly capitalism and the new surveillance economy.

Truck driving could soon be a desk job

Illustration of a hand guiding a computer mouse on a highway-themed mouse pad
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week, for likely the first time, a heavy-duty commercial truck drove for 9.4 miles on the Florida Turnpike with no one inside. The "driver" was 140 miles away, operating the rig remotely.

The big picture: Automated freight delivery is expected to begin long before self-driving cars are here, and at least a half dozen truck companies are working on the technology, with tests in various stages of development. Starsky Robotics' Florida demonstration was believed to be the first unmanned, high-speed test of a heavy-duty commercial truck on a public highway.