By Dave Jaques, director of product management, BlueParrott.
When you’re in the truck technology business – and headset maker GN Audio, which produces the BlueParrott product line for truck drivers, certainly is – you need to always be thinking ahead to what the future may hold for freight transport. To that end, Dave Jaques, BlueParrot’s director of product management, shares some of the trends he sees developing for the industry in the guest column below.
The North American trucking industry has witnessed a lot of change over the last one hundred years. But now, as more drivers are needed, trucking companies large and small must find ways to help their employees do their tough job more efficiently and with fewer burdens. As a result, in 2018, the trucking industry will undergo a lot more changes – with much of its transformation revolving around an increasing the level of innovation within the industry through technological enhancements.
Here are a few technologies that could make a strong impact on the trucking sector in the coming year.
Connecting the Connected Vehicle: Truckers are becoming a more crucial part of the supply chain, thanks to the growth of online shopping. It’s easy to believe that trucks should and need to be armed with technology that can make connecting with e-commerce warehouses easier. As the Internet of Things (IoT) presses further into the truck cab, innovation will move past data collection and begin to more efficiently manage assists and timing to aide in better operational efficiencies. By coordinating data systems to integrate distribution centers and vehicles together, organizations can more effectively manage all resources. This means that trucks will be able to tell a warehouse what is in their load and when they are arriving, which reduces the downtime for vehicles and drivers, and improves efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Customizable Interfaces: In the next few years, vehicles will continue to navigate away from conventional gauges and dials and move more to touch screen panels. The second generation of this implementation will bring about the ability to customize this interface. Imagine moving from vehicle to vehicle, and being able to take your desired format with you. Drivers will no longer be required to learn a new interface, resulting in a more seamless migration to new vehicles. This also simplifies the training process for truckers. It’s one thing to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler, and another to adjust to different personalized settings and systems. Providing truckers with a customizable interface will create a safer environment and make drivers more productive and happier. No one wants to play around with their settings in a car – so why should a driver who bills thousands of miles a year?
Augmented Reality: Imagine sitting in a truck for hours on end. While traffic and weather delays are the nature of the job, it would be helpful for drivers to have a better sense of what’s ahead. Moving forward, drivers will be provided with a migration of layered information within heads up displays, providing a multitude of different information about the environment and status of the vehicle. This will not only prevent accidents but also enable truckers to make smarter decisions as they drive – which makes for a safer highway. This “layering tool” also provides a safer and more efficient flow of data to the operator, everything from directions, real-time lane traffic and congestion management, to load and vehicle monitoring; all without having to take your eyes off of the road. Such technology will also make drivers more efficient and enable them to make smarter, savvier decisions as they drive.
Autonomous Vehicles: Driverless trucks are increasingly becoming a buzz word. In the last few years, we’ve seen many companies begin to build and create cars and trucks that could be driven autonomously. As citizens, this is a crazy concept but some of the technologies being engineered can actually be useful to both trucks and their drivers. Trucks continue to be modernized, leveraging all of the latest technology for safety and efficiency. These innovations include lane-assist and assisted breaking features, which are the gateway to true autonomy. As is the case with their four wheeled counterparts, efforts are well underway to create self-driving trucks. In the next few years, we’ll begin to see more and more companies look to these driverless trucks to man the roads, though it will be many years before it actually takes off. In the meantime, more trucks will be fixed with technologies to help make the roads a safer place.
In short, the trucking industry is going through a massive shift due to technology advancements. But that will also provide more tools for making the roadways a safer, more efficient place for hauling freight.