Can Autonomy Help Reduce Diabetes?

Autonomous vehicles may have a future benefit that no one ever talks about: Overall health improvement for the people formerly known as “drivers.” This is a conclusion that can be drawn from a recent Gallup survey that shows that Transportation workers—as in people who drive long-haul trucks for a living (as well as bus drivers, pilots, and even ship personnel)—have a higher rate of diabetes than other major occupations.

Autonomous vehicles may have a future benefit that no one ever talks about: Overall health improvement for the people formerly known as “drivers.”

This is a conclusion that can be drawn from a recent Gallup survey that shows that Transportation workers—as in people who drive long-haul trucks for a living (as well as bus drivers, pilots, and even ship personnel)—have a higher rate of diabetes than other major occupations.

According to Gallup, 10.3 percent of Transportation workers surveyed have diagnosed diabetes. Farmers/Fishers/Foresters are second, at 8.5 percent.

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Freightliner Inspiration: Autonomous truck

Undoubtedly contributing to not only having diabetes but being at risk for the onset of the disease at some future point is the finding that Transportation workers are the most obese among all of the occupations surveyed: 40.3%, with Manufacturing or Production workers coming in second at 31.2 percent.

While plenty of attention is being paid to the development of autonomous cars, trucks—semis, in particular—are being engineered, as well, which could be good news for the health of numerous people.

For example, addition to Pacificas and Lexus RXes, Waymo recently put an autonomous Peterbilt in its fleet.

The Uber Advanced Technology Group, which has absorbed the now legally beleaguered Otto (think: the Waymo/Uber-Anthony Levandowski lawsuit that drives on and on), put Class 8 Volvo in Colorado last fall in a 120-mile autonomous beer run.

Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration is the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway (in Nevada), and that happened back in 2015.

One could make the argument that by putting robots behind the wheel could be highly beneficial to the health of long-haul drivers.

But there is a bit of a caveat. According to Gallup, people with health insurance—as in the workers surveyed (more than 90,000 of them, conducted in 2016)—are more likely to be diagnosed because they are more likely to visit a doctor. Should they lose their ride this could lead to a loss of insurance, a loss of diagnosis, and even more unpleasantness adding to the loss of a paycheck.