Self-driving truck company TuSimple has partnered with Pima Community College in Arizona to announce the launch of the first autonomous driving certificate programme for truck drivers.
The Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist programme aims to prepare individuals for jobs such as training the autonomous system as test drivers, operating the vehicle in situations where autonomous driving is not suitable, and remotely monitoring the system from a command centre.
“It’s clear that the future of truck transportation will offer new employment opportunities for today’s drivers but it will require a set of new skills,” said Lee Lambert, Chancellor of Pima Community College, which is one of the largest multi-campus community college districts in the US.
“Working with TuSimple to develop this Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist certificate program ensures our students will build competencies in multiple areas – from logistics and information technology to automated industrial technology. These areas are being transformed by autonomy and drivers will need training in order to interact with autonomous trucks.”
TuSimple and Pima Community College have created a curriculum for the programme that includes courses such as ‘Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles’, ‘Computer Hardware Components’ and ‘Transportation and Traffic Management’.
As well as teaching students about the different elements of autonomous driving, TuSimple said that it would prioritise hiring graduates from the certificate programme for jobs at its testing and development centre in Tucson, Arizona.
“In keeping with TuSimple’s mission to create the safest autonomous driving fleet, an essential aspect of the training program is to ensure that drivers have access to appropriate training for this new technology and employment opportunities,” said TuSimple’s Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Xiaodi Hou.
“We commend Pima Community College for offering this innovative and exciting program that can help address the acute driver shortage. The program offers driving professionals a smooth transition into an emerging field that requires different skill sets in addition to existing truck driving knowledge by providing training.”
The partners said that the autonomous driving programme was created against the backdrop of a US Department of Transportation study examining how the development and deployment of automated vehicle-related technology is expected to impact the transportation workforce. The first phase of the study will focus on jobs in the long-haul trucking and transit bus sector.
TuSimple says that as autonomous technology creates new jobs, it wants to be a catalyst in providing talent to and access to job opportunities in the transportation industry.
The Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist programme will be offered at Pima Community College starting in September 2019, with registration beginning in August 2019. The partners plan to collaborate with other schools interested in offering the same programme.