Resting as you drive? It's possible
Vehicle manufacturers are conducting extensive research and testing to adopt technologies for heavy duty vehicles – the autopilot.
Every driver knows the cruise control function and at least some of them do not imagine working behind the wheel without it. The invention of Cruise Control dates back to 1945, but its commercial use began in early 1960s. Initially the device was popular across the ocean thanks to thousands of miles of highways available there, nut as the years went by, it became more common also in Europe.
UPSIDE OF USING CRUISE CONTROL
The main feature releases the driver from constantly needing to keep the accelerator at the same level. Everyone know how wearisome and exhausting driving long distance without can become. Cruise control also increases the smoothness of the drive and contributes to decrease of fuel consumption up to 15%.
As the years went by basic cruise control that kept the a steady speed was enhanced with proximity sensors, which allow the vehicle to adjust the speed and to keep a safe distance between other cars on the road and, if absolutely necessary, to stop it. The driver still has the duty of keeping the vehicle on a proper path. The idea of trucks being fully controlled by a computer seemed like a matter of time – and this time is coming now. There are currently three major players in the heavy vehicle market working on improving and implementing driverless solutions and each of them has a different approach.
DAF AND SCANIA SUGGESTIONS
DAF and Scania are working hard on implementing the platoon solution onto public roads. This technology enables truck convoys to drive with only one being driven by live driver and the rest will follow the leader step by step being controlled by computers making use of cameras and other sensors. To put it plain the controlled vehicles will mimic the vehicle driven by a real driver.
Definitely an interesting solution, but there are issues with implementing it on a wide scale, especially when considering international transport. In most cases organising transports of several trucks to transport goods from loading to offloading in the same time can be proven very challenging. The german manufacturer Mercedes Benz decided to take a different route.
Recently the initial phase of public road testing for the HIGHWAY PILOT feature has been concluded. Thanks to it, while using highways, the driver has the opportunity to fully relinquish the control to the on board computer. During this time, the driver can take care of tasks normally done when the vehicle is not on the move – planning the whole route including parking and refuelling, taking care of the paperwork or even relaxing during the drive. The system monitors the road in front of the vehicle and if necessary asks the drive to intervene and take over. Next stage involves enhancing the system with telematics solutions to have the on-board computer adjust the route in real time, based on current traffic situation or other road problems. This will allow the dispatchers to monitor the trucks and the goods more thoroughly.
CHANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT
„We see great potential in automatization of the transport industry. They will definitely greatly improve the TSL sector. The driver are the bottleneck when comes to development of transport companies and supporting their work will immensely improve the the appeal of the job” said Adam Aszyk, Adar Managing Director of Adar
Stress and pressure have always been present for professional driver, yet new technologies might change the situation and make the job more satisfying. How long will we have to wait? The experts believe the commercial use of this technology can be implemented within next 10 years. With this relatively short timeline the transport industry and the driver occupation might go through major transformation.