Future Technology for Motor Carriers
February 25, 2016
Author: Shannon Zimmerman
Can an 85,000 pound truck operate for a period of time with no driver control? Not currently, but this technology is believed to be available in the next 10 years or so. These trucks will include 360-degree awareness so the control system can see everything around the vehicle. Full control of the tractor-trailer and the system will be set up to alert drivers of changes and tell drivers when to reengage with the vehicle and driving process.
In May 2015, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck was introduced to the world (although not available for purchase yet). It is equipped with the Highway Pilot sensors and computer hardware. The Highway Pilot uses a camera technology and radar systems with lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, and steering among other monitoring systems. Using two sets of sensors, this radar monitors the road in front of the vehicle. The sensors are short-range and long-range. The long-range sensor is monitoring traffic 820 feet in narrow, eighteen-degree field of view. While the short-range is monitoring 230 feet ahead of truck and 130-degree field of view. These abilities together create an autonomous vehicle operating system that can perform safely under a range of highway driving conditions. The autonomous vehicle system is responsible for maintaining legal speed, staying in the selected lane, keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles, and slowing or stopping the vehicle based on traffic and road conditions. The vehicle monitors changes in conditions that require transition back to driver control when necessary in highway settings. The driver would be in control of the vehicle for exiting the highway, on local roads, and in docking for making deliveries.
This technology has some exciting benefits to the transportation industry including: improved fuel efficiency, early route trouble detection, less downtime, more calculable transport time, and less wear on the trucks due to consistent driving styles. In the future it may become common to look over and see a truck “driving” itself.
|Shannon M. Zimmerman, CRM, CIC, AAI
Senior Account Manager/Service SupervisorBachelor’s Degree from Loras College. Transportation Industry for over 11 years.