At the Port of Los Angeles, local union officials representing some 12,000 dockworkers protests one of the world’s largest shipping firms, as they plan to introduce driverless electric cargo trucks.
(Los Angeles dockworkers protest autonomous trucks)
Shouting, whistling and jeering, more than 1,200 union members, local business owners and community activists packed a four-hour hearing Thursday before the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners. The board voted to postpone a construction permit for the automated system after an offer by Mayor Eric Garcetti to mediate the dispute.
“The decision before the board may have far-reaching impacts on the pace of automation at our port and could define how the port will compete and sustain jobs into the foreseeable future,” Garcetti wrote in a letter unveiled at the hearing.
Science fiction fans have been waiting a long time to see this particular future. Fans of science fiction great Philip K. Dick may recall his prediction of autonomous trucks in his 1955 short story Autofac:
The truck was massive, rumbling under its tightly packed load. In many ways, it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin. The horizontal surface was a loading stage, and the part that would normally be the headlights and radiator grill was a fibrous spongelike mass of receptors, the limited sensory apparatus of this mobile utility extension.
(Read more and see an illustration of Philip K. Dick's autonomous truck)
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