On September 19th, 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company will fully complete autonomous driving technology of level 5 by the end of 2021. A self-driving car refers to a car that identifies the situation with various sensors such as precise maps and GPS and visits the destination on its own without the driver operating a handle, accelerator pedal, or brake. A level of the self-driving car is divided into 6 stages from 0 to 5. From level 4, the driver doesn’t have to control the car.
Not only Tesla but also domestic companies are preparing for the commercialization of self-driving cars in earnest. Hyundai is going to release self-driving cars in 2022, and LG Electronics co-founded a joint venture with Magna International and is going to produce components of electric vehicles. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport predicts that public transportation access time will be reduced to 20%, the transfer time will be done to 50% and accidents caused by drivers’ carelessness will be done to 50%, so it expects that convenience and safety will improve. Also, it is expected that traffic accident mortality will be reduced to 50%, compared to 2015. Because of these strengths, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport has announced this year’s plan to ‘open the era of commercialization of autonomous driving in 2025.’ Looking at the advantages of self-driving cars and developing technologies for commercialization are in full swing in many places, do self-driving cars have only good points?
Mr. Ahn, a semiconductor worker, said, “I think self-driving cars will soon occupy all the roads and the job of a driver will disappear first. For example, when we work in a semiconductor factory, we made Foup, a machine used in a semiconductor factory that contains silicon wafers, to work a little more comfortably. It was only for maximizing semiconductor efficiency through Foup, but now that the machine has begun to replace people, Samsung Electronics’ first FAB has become an automation plant with no people at all. Naturally, people who worked in the first factory lost their job. The same goes for self-driving cars. Tesla has already built self-driving cars and is using them little by little, and we don’t know when they will take our jobs and take over. Therefore, I think self-driving cars will take away the job of a driver in 5 years.” I agree with this to an extent. Hyundai Motor has already piloted the ‘Robo Shuttle’ service in Sejong from August 9th to September 30th in 2021. Robo Shuttle is a combination of ‘Robot’ and ‘Shuttle,’ which means a bus, and is mobility equipped with autonomous driving technology in a multi-seater vehicle. Using this pilot operation as an experiment, Hyundai Motor plans to operate a ‘Robot+Taxi’ in the United States in 2023 with the joint venture Momental. 15 years ago, I saw a scene in a comic book taking without a driver, and now the scene isn’t a cartoon drawn on paper, but actually in front of me.
Contrary to Mr. Ahn’s concerns, the Korea Testing Laboratory said that if the era of commercialization of self-driving cars comes, the automobile industry will expand from manufacturing to various fields and creating new jobs. This means that it will create new jobs that lead the automobile industry that has changed from the past, such as various autonomous software development engineers, system inspection and management personnel, mobility services, and electric vehicle batteries, etc.
However, I think the new jobs that Korea Testing Laboratory mentioned are only for the ‘youth.’ Plus, I think, “Isn’t these new jobs, such as autonomous software development engineers, for only talented people who are currently studying AI can have?” I had been in the AI lab for months to study drone batteries, and it was very hard to learn AI. However, no matter how young people are jumping into taxi drivers, bus drivers, and logistics carriers these days, it is true that the age group of drivers and carriers is high. If level 5 fully-driving self-driving cars are commercialized, self-driving cars will immediately take away jobs from older drivers or carriers, who and how will find their jobs again? Because of this idea, I don’t think the commercialization of self-driving cars is only good, and I don’t think this is the only social problem caused by the commercialization of self-driving cars. Therefore, I think the government should come up with solutions to prepare for problems in the commercialization era of self-driving cars, such as training drivers and carriers to easily access AI.