A multidisciplinary research team from Michigan State University will use a US$2.49m grant from the National Science Foundation in the USA to conduct a four-year study examining the impacts of AVs on the future workforce.
Shelia Cotten, professor in the Department of Media and Information, who is a leading expert on the use and impacts of emerging technologies, will lead the team. It will draw from organizational psychology, economics, sociology, geography, technology and transportation engineering.
Serving as co-principal investigator on the project, Elizabeth Mack, associate professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences, said, “We are approaching the next phase of technological change where people will interact with autonomous machines in various contexts. This project will help us understand these interactions and their impact on driving jobs, which is one of the first waves of workplaces expected to be impacted by this new wave of technologies.”
Cotton added, “The era of AVs will bring changing job requirements for workers who use vehicles, which will lead to the replacement of workers. Our research project will help determine the specific skills and skillsets needed to ensure that members of the current workforce, as well as the future workforce, are prepared for this transition. This project will also identify the impacts of this shift on workers’ lives, which has not been frequently a focus in past research.”
The research will help determine how driving jobs will change in response to AVs and what new skills will be required; how willing and able workers are to adapt to the change; and the downstream impacts on drivers in the transportation industry.