2015 witnessed Freightliner’s Inspiration Truck -- the first licensed autonomous commercial truck in the U.S. Let’s take a moment to let that soak in.
The Inspiration Truck was important from a number of perspectives. It was a watershed moment for the auto, commercial and heavy-duty industries as it provides a roadmap of what is possible. It accomplished full autonomy using current technology. Its introduction signified a change of what customers can expect and made manufactures think beyond their next product release.
During the past year, PRECO’s interaction and work with manufacturers has seen a significant rise as manufacturers and OEMs are looking to engage with providers of technology that deliver flexible and open-based solutions. Manufacturers understand that they are not going to be able to source technology from one vendor, but rather must incorporate the industry’s best technology and have it interact with other components in order to achieve semi and/or full autonomy.
If 2015 revealed the first licensed autonomous commercial truck, what does 3-5 years down the road hold for the future direction of the market? Technology is going to leap forward at a torrent pace. A recent article discussed how technology, across the board, is starting to outpace the market’s ability to adopt and outpace the government’s ability to mandate with legislation. Within the article the writer reminded us that it was not that long ago that the market standardized use of seat belts and airbags within the operator’s compartment.
Why is the market moving in this direction? A recent study of truck safety conducted by the Volvo Trucks’ Accident Research Team in Europe found that 90% of all truck safety incidents are due entirely or partly to human error. A move toward semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles aims to reduce the amount of incidents that are a function of operator behavior.
Today, the industry is focused on solutions that improve efficiency, safety and connectivity. Tomorrow (in the very near future) we believe that the industry will be focused on eliminating human error and supporting the adoption of full autonomy within each class of commercial vehicles.
Freightliner was able to introduce a true “Inspiration” for the heavy-duty industry. It is now up to customers and fleet owners to demand that the technology they buy and integrate into their vehicles satisfies both current and future needs. It seems that a move toward some level of autonomy is where we are headed, it remains to be seen how quickly this adoption will happen.
PRECO’s open-based technology is a proven solution leader within the heavy-duty industry and we are excited as we engage with our partners to introduce the first semi and full autonomy solutions.