What Happens To Truck Drivers If Semis Start Driving Themselves?

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Photo: Otto Robot Beer Truck
Otto's self-driving Volvo truck hooked up to the Budweiser branded trailer. On the side, the trailer proclaims "Proudly Brewed. Self-Driven."

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about autonomous vehicles, particularly what they could mean for people whose livelihood is driving.

Politicians have painted very different pictures.

State Sen. Owen Hill (R-El Paso County), co-sponsored the first state law regulating self-driving vehicles -- Senate Bill 17-213 goes into effect next week. He told CPR News earlier this year that the technology is an opportunity.

"Technology actually frees people up to do what they do best," he said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper told CPR News that "technology is eliminating entire professions, in giant, leaping steps," and he questioned what happens if people who drive for a living are left without a job because of this technology.

Just last year, a self-driving semi-truck transported beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.

Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which represents trucking companies big and small, isn't ready to sound the alarm. But Rick Ash of Lakewood, who owns his own rig and has been driving professionally for nearly 30 years, is worried about what the technology could mean for the future of truckers. Fulton and Ash spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.