Emerging Tech Trends for Trucks

The Digital Revolution (in which computer technology keeps getting better, and cheaper) is having a huge impact on the world.  Computers have made their way into nearly every aspect of our lives (because we now carry them in our pockets) and have drastically changed the way we live and work. It’s very likely that, in the coming decades, computer technology is going to completely change the face of the road freight industry with the advent of autonomous vehicles.

Google has already built a car that can drive itself.  Many major automakers are in the midst of developing their own programs, betting on a future that involves an “autopilot” that will take on some, or all, of the driving.  In Germany, Daimler has demonstrated the “Highway Pilot” system for commercial trucks, which can take control of the truck about 50% of the time, at speeds up to 85 km/h.  This will reduce the need for the driver to concentrate on the road at all times – he or she will be able to rotate the driver chair 45 degrees, and use a computer to work on other things, like load scheduling or communication.

Daimler hopes to bring this system to market by 2025, provided that governments enact legislation to allow it.Daimler is quick to point out that a driver will still be required for the truck at all times, in case a situation arises that the Highway Pilot can’t handle.  We’re looking at a model similar to the aviation industry.  Most commercial airliners spend most of their time on autopilot, but a human is always available in the cockpit, ready to assume control of the aircraft.

Many modern trucks now employ computers to aid the driver.  While none of them take direct control of the vehicle, they can detect and sound an alarm if the driver crosses lane markers, speeds, or becomes drowsy.Still, it’s unlikely that computer autopilots will replace a human behind the wheel any time soon.  Survey after survey has shown that the world isn't ready for a car (or truck) that drives itself 100% of the time because of safety concerns, which is good news for truckers!

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