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Carroll School of Management

Self-driving Vehicles

David Abney

Chairman and CEO, UPS

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College Chief Executives Club  

May 19, 2016

TAKEAWAY: Self-driving Vehicles

Audience Member:
Along a similar vein, what are your thoughts on self-driving vehicles—trucks and other vehicles?

Well, you know, every day, when I get in my car in Georgia 400 traffic in Atlanta, I believe that everybody other than me should have these autonomous vehicles, because I just don’t think they know how to drive. And they probably have the same thoughts about me. But again we believe the technology is there. We are working with some companies. We’ve invested in some companies to get learnings from this.  

We’re interested in a lot of different technologies, one of which would be maybe we’d have a lead vehicle—and I’m talking tractor trailers or anything—you could have a lead vehicle and then you have vehicles that follow and wouldn’t necessarily have to have a driver. Maybe that at some point in time—and I don’t think too far down the future—we could have drivers that would meet the vehicle or drivers that are in the cars, but they may not be driving but be available if they’re needed to.  

So I just think it’s a matter of time. It’s going to create a lot of opportunities. We see a lot of opportunities in certain parts of our business. But we also have to remember there are a lot of social issues to get through here. And if all cars automatically were autonomous, it’d be a little bit different than you have some autonomous then you have a lot of not-so-careful drivers that are out there, too. So, we believe the scenario that’s going to make a lot of progress in the next few years but, until policy again catches up with some of this, there’s always going to be the pull about safety and those kinds of issues.