Self-Driving Trucks Hit The Roads In Europe

When it comes to vehicles, there are two new technologies that people are looking forward to. First off there are electric vehicles, with Tesla’s new Model 3 getting billions of dollars worth of pre-orders, then there is the move to automated vehicles. With driverless vehicles gaining momentum, a set of self-driving trucks have hit the roads of Europe in a demonstration that’s set to show the technology off to the world.

Six manufacturers took part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, courtesy of the Dutch Government. Truck platooning refers to the ability for automated trucks to follow one another in close procession, making use of a slipstream to reduce carbon dioxide and fuel usage.

Travelling from different parts of Europe to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with companies like Volvo and Daimler watching as their vehicles picked up cargo from the port before heading back to different locations all around Europe.

With self-driving trucks already looking to be tested in the UK within the year, it could be sooner than we think before large companies start using automated vehicles to deliver their goods. With companies like Google looking to create and release a self-driving car just one of many self-driving ideas, including a self-driving pram, you could soon get to put your feet up and enjoy a movie on those long road trips.

Driverless Lorries Coming to the UK

When it comes to cars, there is one topic on every companies lips, driverless technology. The ability to take a car from your house to the shops, to work, and then back home without ever pressing the pedals or touching the steering wheel. From Formula E announcing that they will start racing driverless vehicles and London looking to get driverless pods within the year, what could be next? Driverless lorries.

The Department for Transport is keen on being seen as a forerunner for technology, from driverless cars to electric car charging roads. The latest plans seem to be creating a driverless “HGV platoon”, with up to 10 computer controlled lorries being driver mere metres away from one another. The trial for the project, set to take place later this year, will see the vehicles driving down the M6 with the front vehicle being driven by a person.

Some have been sceptical about the plan, though, with the president of the AA, Edmund King, saying that while it may work in other countries it might not be the right thing in the UK.

His reasoning for this doubt was that “The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world”.

While plans like these are great, I can see where King is coming from. Ten lorries blocking your exit on the road would be a pain. While having regular automated lorries would help reduce traffic in the long run and perhaps even ease congestion, I can see people be scared and sceptical until they are a regular sight on the roads.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

Google Employee Lives in a Parking Lot and Saves 90% of His Income

A 23-year-old Software Engineer who works for Google in San Francisco has eschewed renting an apartment in favour of sleeping in a truck in his employer’s parking lot. Brandon, who has withheld his surname and photo to maintain his anonymity, was struggling last Summer, living with four people in a 2-bedroom apartment and paying $2,000 per month, during his Google internship. He decided that there had to be a better way.

“I realized I was paying an exorbitant amount of money for the apartment I was staying in — and I was almost never home,” Brandon said. “It’s really hard to justify throwing that kind of money away. You’re essentially burning it — you’re not putting equity in anything and you’re not building it up for a future — and that was really hard for me to reconcile.”

Upon starting a full-time position at Google, Brendan purchased a 2006 Ford truck, with 157,000 miles on the clock, for $10,000, which amounted to his signing bonus from Google. Not as a vehicle, but as a home.

Brendan has no overheads – he does not drive his truck, uses no electricity, and his phone bill is covered by Google – and his only regular payment is the $121 a month car insurance. He eats, showers, and works out at his workplace campus. As of today, Brendan has “broke even” on his truck, at least according to his “savings clock”. His net savings, updated live on his blog, “Thoughts from Inside the Box”, were listed as $206.53 (rising every few seconds) at the time of writing.

“I don’t actually own anything that needs to be plugged in,” he explains. “The truck has a few built-in overhead lights, and I have a motion-sensitive battery-powered lamp I use at night. I have a small battery pack that I charge up at work every few days, and I use that to charge my headphones and cellphone at night. My work laptop will last the night on a charge, and then I charge it at work.”

Image courtesy of Thoughts from Inside the Box.

Samsung ’Safety Truck’ Shows the Road Ahead On a Rear Screen

Have you ever risked overtaking a truck or articulated lorry, not knowing for sure if the lane ahead was clear? That hazardous maneuver may become a thing of the past, thanks to the ‘safety truck’.

Developed by Korean tech behemoth Samsung, the ‘Safety Truck’ uses wireless video cameras, attached to the front of the hulking road vehicle, that projects the road ahead, in real-time, on to large digital screens mounted on the rear of the trailer portion of the truck, allowing road-users following the vehicle to see exactly what the truck’s driver sees, and whether the road is clear for a potential overtaking. The cameras even include night vision functionality.

The technology was developed in the wake of Argentina’s appalling road safety record, with 80% of the country’s fatalities occurring on roads – one person every hour – with the majority related to overtaking. Argentinian tech group Ingematica contributed heavily to the design, in partnership with ad agency Leo Burnett and, of course, Samsung.

Though the ‘Safety Truck’ is little more than a technical demonstration at present, it is hoped that the development of the technology will make roads safer and save lives across the globe.

Thank you RT for providing us with this information.

Autonomous Driving Just got Bigger

We love to hear about new car technology at eTeknix; Electric Vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving have caught our eye a lot recently. Self-driving cars have given us a look into the future and now it seems the next step has come to pass, self-driving trucks.

American truck company, Daimler, has now put the finishing touches on their semi-autonomous truck. This can now legally operate on the highways of Nevada thanks to thousands of hours and miles of rigorous testing. It had to drive over 10,000 miles on a self-contained circuit in Germany before it was ‘granted’ a license. Nevada governor, Brian Sandoval, has officially granted the “Freightliner Inspiration Truck” a license for road use in the state, giving it the status of “First of its kind” to navigate public roads in the US.

The system, dubbed “Highway Pilot System” isn’t fully autonomous, it operates by cameras, radars and hundreds of other sensors, but still requires a human input from behind the wheel; this system sounds more like a highway co-driver and the human driver has to take over for manoeuvring off the highway. When the system takes over, the sensors and computers then take charge of maintaining a legal speed, lane selection and maintaining braking distance from the car in front. This then frees up the driver to take on other tasks like stock take and route planning and scheduling.

Currently, there are only two of these trucks in operation and it’s unclear whether more will be made. I actually like the sound of this, the little black box in The Simpsons has now become a reality, but surely this is just another step towards ‘Robots taking over jobs’? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.