The breakthrough in Self-Driving Technology
The arrival of self-driving trucks is a big innovation in the world of trucking industry. We are now into the sphere of artificial intelligence and autonomous driving technology. Imagine using electronic logging, a driver can change the truck control into autopilot mode, take a nap for several hours, inspect quickly and get prepared to navigate the truck during busy hour in some large city.
There is a growing view that self-driving vehicles will cause fewer accidents compared to carriers having human drivers. An expected rise in self-driven heavy-duty trucks over the following ten years in United States has been predicted. Though the regulators will need heavy trucks to maintain human driver for travel in the role of supervisor, but their function will be “hands-off” regarding driving.
Self-driving techniques are being developed by truck manufacturers. The automotive firm, Daimler launched its maiden Freightliner Inspiration Truck, which is the world’s initial licensed autonomous truck. The company is also thinking of devising a platoon technology, which will link digitally batches of two to five trucks that drive closely in divisions to regulate wind resistance and raise fuel efficiency. The pack of trucks can be supervised by a captain placed in the carrier of the first vehicle. The different vehicles pursue their particular drivers or ultimately autonomously also.
Self-driving trucks are also being developed by Otto, a San Francisco firm supplying trucks with the required gear for autonomous driving. Otto’s quick changing technology has been installed on the largest global truck brand, Volvo Semis. The latest versions of the firm’s sensor cum processing arrangements are finely integrated through the entire Volvo cab. The gadget contains 4 front facing video cameras, accelerometers box and radar. There is a customized, liquid-cooled micro-supercomputer which figures out the wide stream of sensor data and supervises it through the guidance algorithms that regulate braking plus steering commands to improve the vehicle’s load weight.
The hardware equipment is filled out by a drive-by-wire box that changes the computer’s output to actual truck-control signals. This is done with the help of electromechanical actuators firmly fixed onto the vehicle’s mechanical steering, braking mechanisms and throttling. The two big buttons of red color in the cab can halt every self-driving action. The system has also been designed to respond to any quick pulls on the steering wheel or heavy pedal pumps from any person on the driver’s seat, even without the need of those big red buttons.
The main component of Otto’s technology comprises of a lidar system that utilizes a pulsed laser to gather complete data relating to the truck’s surroundings. Only last year a shipment of American lager beer, Budweiser was filled onto an autonomous truck from Otto, while it’s only human driver remained in the sleeper berth without touching the truck’s controls. This was the first commercial delivery that was ever handled by a self-driving heavy truck.
Though Otto holds that it does not intend to release products for operating driverless cabs, but expects to let the driver free himself more in the cab backside for relaxing, working or even to have some sleep. Herein, lies the economic factors that are in favor of the self-driving trucks that cruise almost 24/7 to reduce their freight charges.
These autonomous trucks are long-haul trucks that runs by itself for continued stretches on highways. The driver can position himself in the back of the vehicle as the truck propels itself in the right lane. To take over the autonomous driving mechanism instantly, a human can move the red buttons towards the right of the steering wheel.
Making trucks drive itself autonomously across 230,000 miles of American highway also results in expected saving. Fuel costs a third of the operational cost of long-haul truck and the drivers have the potential of extracting maximum distance per gallon from their vehicles, but a majority of them are heavy-footed on the pedals. Otto’s gadget has been programmed to maintain trucks secured to maximum speeds and swiftness.
Huge automated vehicles are generally used in the Australian mining industry for transporting materials. As Australia is a highly truck-dependent country globally, the mining leaders are utilizing remote-regulated lorries to transfer iron ore across huge mining pits.
The German multinational firm, Daimler has also likewise exhibited its model, a huge 18 wheeler that has a “highway pilot” mode present which means that a driver has to be present. It seems that the self-driving technology will create a logistics manager in the driver of tomorrow. Another method is to utilize automated convoys, in which the autonomous trucks pursue a lead vehicle.
Actually, driving a truck almost 11 hours per day is quite stressful and fatigue resulting. While being able to take a nap and chill out in the cab, while the driving is being done by the Otto helps the drivers to invest their time in heavy paperwork or detect a backhaul load to fund a return trip or even chat with their family.
The Swedish firm, Volvo due to safety concerns has not made any immediate plans to run its autonomous trucks on the public roads. Rather, it wants to restrict them to personal locations like mines or ports. The company wants to use the autonomous driving technology to support the driver instead of replacing him.
Furthermore, the technological obstacles confronting the autonomous trucks are greater compared to self-driving cars. Otto and various firms have to display that their sensors and code can stand up to the situational reflexes of a skilled trucker that has come with years of training and experience. Piloting a quickly destabilized cavalcade in the event of road hazards, bad surface conditions and erratic car-drivers are areas that have to be taken note of and aligned by the sensors of the manufacturing companies.
Above all, the autonomous technology has made the job very attractive for human drivers and it’s a method for trucking companies to replenish drivers who are not available. However, the issue remains that if one day the self-driving system gets accepted as replacement for behind the wheels drivers, why maintain human drivers on it at all? In fact, drivers do account for one-third of the per-mile expenses of running a truck.
One thing is for sure that the competition between the different firms producing such technologies will develop functional, self-driving trucks within a span of five to ten years. If the technology becomes proven, then we will find that the incentive for adoption of such technology will become more powerful. In the foreseeable future, the operations of automated trucks would be restricted to long-haul highways only and would probably need human interference to pilot the vehicle through the final few miles of its landing place.