• ITVI.USA
    15,466.420
    -70.120
    -0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.742
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.530
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,439.080
    -68.090
    -0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,466.420
    -70.120
    -0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.742
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.530
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,439.080
    -68.090
    -0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American Shipper

R&D program manager: Automated freight trucks should hit the market in next few years

Development of automated platooning, which enables groups of driverless trucks to travel in single file on a roadway, is further along than some might think, according to Steven Shladover of California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology.

   Automated cargo trucks should hit the market sometime in the next few years, but truck drivers shouldn’t yet worry about their job security, because it could be a generation before the industry actually begins to phase out traditional big rigs, according to the manager of a Northern California transportation studies institute.
   As part of a keynote address on connected and automated trucks held during the opening day of the International Urban Freight Conference (I-NUF) in Long Beach, Calif., Steven Shladover, program manager for California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), said that automated platooning of commercial vehicles, which relies on electronic coupling to enable groups to travel in single file on a roadway, is well along in the development phase.
   “Truck platooning, this is something that a lot of people have been investigating,” Shladover said. “There are no products yet, but I’m gonna guess that in a few years, we will see some (adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance) systems on the market.”
   Higher level systems, where a human passenger would only be needed to pilot the lead platoon truck in event of a traffic jam, is probably “a little further away,” he said.
   “I’m guessing something like five years from now, we might see a system becoming available,” he added.
   Advanced control systems, however, will allow drivers to take on a different role.
   “They don’t need to be continuously doing the steering and the speed control,” Shladover explained. “They can start turning into logistics managers; they can become sales people who are contacting the customers for future deliveries.
   “We might get to the point where you don’t need drivers in those following (platoon) trucks on long-haul routes where you’ve got a relatively benign environment,” he said, before adding that such a possibility is likely still several years away.
   Among the technology enablers required to make this possible, he said, are adaptive cruise control, which communicates with other vehicles on the road, and is already on the market. Also needed, however, are fast and reliable vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems, so that trucks can have coordinated behaviors; plus, a driver interface to inform the driver what’s going on with the other trucks that they’re cobbled together with.
   Additionally, he said, reliable detection of vehicles that cut in on platooning is required.
   “When we do tests out on public roads, we have cut-ins all the time, so the system must be able to accommodate the cut-ins by other drivers,” Shladover said.
   In testing of automated trucks so far on the 710 freeway between downtown Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles, the average speed and volume of trucks were both able to be increased from the norm, and no adverse effects were observed on non-commercial vehicular traffic.
   Shladover also said because of the time it will take to implement automated technology across the trucking industry, humans will still definitely be needed in truck cabins for many years to come.
   “Any current truck driver is going be able to retire from their driving job, they’re not going to go on unemployment because of this technology. It is going to take a long time before we get to the point that the driver will not be needed in the truck, because drivers do a variety of things – it’s not just the minute by minute driving,” he explained. “They have to provide safety assurance for that truck, both before they leave and while they’re along the way. They’re going to have to monitor what’s going on. They’re going to have to deal with the loading and unloading and securement of the loads. They’re going to have to interface with the shippers and receivers at both the origin and destination and they’re going to have to manage the unexpected. The automation technology isn’t going to do all of those things.
   “Even after that technology becomes feasible, it’s going to take decades for the fleet to turn over,” Shladover said. “This will start in some limited niche applications and it’ll gradually get to more and more truck fleets.”
   The International Urban Freight Conference continues Oct. 19 and 20 in Long Beach.

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