Futuristic Big-Rig Technologies Are Almost Here

Volvo Tech II

There's a technology war heating up in the big-rig commercial truck market that may have implications for the pickup-truck segment. Big-truck manufacturers are searching for every way possible to save fuel and make their trucks more efficient, smarter and more capable of bringing products to market faster and safer than ever before.

Daimler AG, one of the world's biggest commercial truckmakers, is working on the Highway Pilot, a truck that drives itself down the road, freeing the driver for other tasks or simply to rest. According to The Detroit News the technology of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 is still 10 years away, and the trucking industry has many safety and policy issues to work out before a self-driving truck will be allowed on the road in the U.S. or Europe. But the cost savings and safety benefits of a truck that uses constantly updating computer and satellite information could be a huge advantage (see video below).

Likewise, German component supplier ZF is also working on new technology that would allow a driver to control a big rig and trailer from outside the truck with a tablet device. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the benefits could include navigating a large commercial vehicle into tight spaces or controlling the powertrain parameters for maximum fuel efficiency over long hauls (see video below).

This technology has been around for a while and is just now working its way into segments of the auto industry that are able to make the hefty initial costs profitable over time — technology like Volvo Dynamic Steering that Volvo AB used in the Jean-Claude Van Damme "Epic Split" video in which he executes the splits in between two big-rig trucks (see video below). The Dynamic Steering technology uses hydraulic power steering along with sophisticated electric motors to smooth out both high- and low-speed road irregularities. The system can be tied into other systems, such as cruise control in either forward or reverse gears, or with proximity sensors.

What implications these technologies will have for personal-use pickups is anyone's guess, but we're likely to get some variation of all three of these systems in one form or another within the next 20 years. Automated vehicles, hands-free driving and app-controlled parking could prove to be handy for some option-hungry truck buyers. However, with all the current attention on how precise engineers have to be about every technology installed in a vehicle, it's difficult to imagine that all the unintended consequences of features like these can be anticipated. We'll just have to wait and see.



Are you kidding me! This has been news for years! News is stuff nobodys seen before. Not the first time putc is late to their own party I guess...

Not everybody knows this stuff, Loco. Many people still think the Van Damme video is a fake. I mean, we're barely even looking at self-driving cars on American roads while most don't even realize that the US military has several self-driving trucks capable of choosing their own routes between two off-road locations to allow for the shortest, yet easiest path for the vehicle.

It's news to those who aren't already aware of it.

If we had something closer to the peacetime average of 4 or 5 percent out of work, it might be different; but the number of unemployed in the reports we see don't include the under-employed, the part timer who wants full time, etc.

At a time of high unemployment in the US, do we really need robot controlled big rigs yet?


Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

yes it will kill jobs but lower cost meaning grocery store would again the most advantage bec u have to make deliveries every day some times two or three times.

it would create new higher paying jobs.

insurance would go down

u can have more truck road trains bec they are safer

traffic would move faster if all cars run of of this tech bec when the light turns green all the cars truck would leave at the same time not like compared to the first one goes then the second one has to stop texting and realize the light is green then goes third one and then fourth one and then grandma as a 3 second delayed reaction then goes

plus with this tech the could increase speed on highways no more 55 like any one realy drives that speed

the left lane would be the fastest 75mpg middle one 70 and 60 for the right one

plus every one can tailgate and can group cars/trucks together to save fuel and get that group through as many lights as possible the ones in the back would speed up to ketch up

before a light turns red the cars would already be slowing down because the light will tell the cars it going to changing in 30 sec and u will never make it anyways

last but not least u will never have to own a car ever again why u might ask bec there will be taxi that drive then self or car sharing. why would this take off u might ask bec the high tech cars will cost at least an extra 10,000 in the beginning they are more like 20-30,000 now is produced on a small assembly line

govt will have to outlaw non self driving vehicles most city's like NY

Well, not really. Many aspects of this new technology are equally applicable to cars, and light through heavy trucks. There is however much about the heavy truck business that is quite unique and it is worth noting that NONE of the heavy truck manufacturers are directly involved with manufacturing light trucks anymore. Ford is making a limited attempt at staying in medium duty, but I think it will be short lived as their new truck may not be too competitive with Freightliner, Navistar or PACCAR except for price.

Light truck manufacturing is far more closely related to car production.

@Papa Jim... honestly after my last interstate trip, I am completely ok with trucker jobs being replaced by robots. Nothing more infuriating that cruising along at 70MPH + and having to jam on the brakes because some a-hole trucker driving 65.5MPH pulls out in front of a line of cars (nearly running some off the road( so that he can pass his buddy who is going 65.25MPH without stepping on his brakes and waiting. Then the next 4 miles is spent behind him as his buddy slowly turns the cruise up to 65.4MPH. If I had a dollar for every jerk off truck driver who thinks he owns the road because he's been driving since he could reach the pedals I could pay to charter jet anywhere I want to go.

Robot trucks and touch screen kiosks at fast food restaurants are two things that would make life so much more enjoyable.

It's been futuristic for the last 20 or more years. Just like platooning vehicles driving in close proximity to save fuel, roadway, etc. It's a pipe dream. There's a far better chance of pilotless aircraft than this nonsense.

I don't know if anybody keeps count but every big rig semi truck driver out there drives a Ram Pickup as their personal vehicle

@Fake Big Al:

HOO HA! Up to now I was actually questioning if it was a fake or if the real one had finally gotten pissed enough. Now I know and I'm a lot happier for it. Thanks for giving me my biggest laugh all day!

I use to know a low information dodge truck owner. He bought it because the commercial said it was Ram Tough. If his IQ was one point lower we would have put some dirt around his feet and watered them. Scam-Ram made in the Taco territory by Hose-A.
I believe I'll turn on the cruse, crawl in the back seat and make myself a samich. Peanut butter, bacon and banana. Thank You, Thank you very much.

Yep lets keep removing jobs from people and then wonder why no one can afford anything.

No job equals no money to buy anything equals depending on the government to take care of you.

No matter how you look at it, its bad news. Hell do we really need all these high paid bankers and stock brokers because I am sure there are computer programs that can perform far better than they do.

Those who back replace people in jobs only do so until it is their job that is about to be eliminated then they change their tune real quick when they suddenly have to worry how they are going to pay their bills and feed their family.

Just because you can does not mean you should.

@Ram Big Horn 1500

Salga de la mierda, la verdad.

Se está haciendo tiempo en el diente.

Usted quiere debatir, pero tiene que ser en sus términos.
Aprender a debatir con buena información, entonces es posible que podamos tener un debate decente.

Las opiniones son buenas, pero si son sólo el fin de apoyar la UAW, a continuación, lo buenos que son. Mira lo que ustedes han hecho a Detroit.

La táctica del terror (tácticas sindicales) no funcionan en mí.
Si putc quiere que el UAW o lo que sea para controlar este sitio Supongo que es su decisión.

No es como los niños me han dicho por PUTC.

Autonomous vehicles are not just illegal, but are unlawful.
So they will never be on the public way.

@Mark Williams,

GM pushes back on calls for brake recall
By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney July 8, 2014: 12:07 PM ET

GM is resisting calls to recall Silverados and other trucks in which brake lines are failing due to exposure to road salt.

General Motors, which has recalled nearly 29 million cars globally so far this year, is pushing back against critics clamoring that it should recall another 6 million pickups and SUVs for a problem with brake lines.


This GM truck brake line problem has been mentioned a few times here and CNN has now picked it up...

The Europeans tend to pack their Cabovers with all the new technology, then filter it down to their US and Japanese operations, from our experience here.
These innovations are not putting anyone out of a job, they are more like tow assist on a Pickup

Thiers a national truck driver shortage. Its hard to make money in trucking these days.

Worldwide problem, so Scania started a Truck driving young drivers covers 100 Countries

Happening worldwide, so that's why a lot of Australians are getting out of trucking and into acting.

@Paul Hogan,
Your post sums up why young drivers are avoiding going into trucking in the US/Canada No similar scheme

Trucking is not the profession it once was. It is getting harder to make money doing and is generally a stressful job.

Of course it is entirely possible for someone to do well in the industry, it's just not what it once was.

For starters, new EPA regulations are putting many owner-operators out of business. In California, 2015 marks the deadline when many must retrofit/retire old engines. For the big trucking companies, this is a burden and for the owner-operator, this could very well mean finding another profession.

Rigs cost upwards of $100k and for anyone who doesn't have a company provided rig, they have to either be really sure they will make money in the business or they already have an established business.

Additionally, fuel prices have skyrocketed, so those who have to pay for their own fuel are taking a big hit from their income.

The government has already destroyed the trucking industry. Starting in 2015 I except to see a lot of California truckers move out of the industry. While I don't like the pollution that trucks create, we still have to move goods around the country.

Unfortunately, very few want the burden of complying with government regulations. This mean mainly the big businesses who can afford the costs of doing so will be the ones to remain in business.

Autonomous trucks will not create new jobs in the industry. In an industry that is already scraping every last penny, they aren't going to suddenly start paying truckers more for "managing" an autonomous truck.

@Grande Al de Oz - ਲੋਊ ਬੀ.ਸੀ. ਮਹਿਲਾ ਦੇ ਕੱਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਨਣ ਨੂੰ ਚੰਗਾ ਲੱਗਦਾ ਹੈ. ਉਸ ਨੇ ਸਭ ਸੰਭਾਵਨਾ ਇੱਕ ਸਮਲਿੰਗੀ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਉਸ ਦੇ ਬੁਆਏ ਮੇਰੇ ਲਈ ਇਸ ਦੀ ਪੁਸ਼ਟੀ ਕਰੋ, ਨਾ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ.

ਮੈਨੂੰ ਉਸ ਦੇ ਪਹਿਰਾਵੇ ਮੇਕਰ ਨੂੰ ਕਹਿਣਾ ਪਵੇਗਾ ਅਨੁਮਾਨ ਲਗਾਉਣ.

@George C: Try again, George. At least 4 states have them perfectly legal and lawful--as long as they have an occupant that can take over the driving.


Ford recalls 100,000 vehicles
By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney July 8, 2014: 3:54 PM ET

The biggest recall was for 92,000 cars that have an axle problem that can either prevent the car from starting or essentially shift the car into neutral when it's on the road. Stopped cars can also roll if the parking brake isn't engaged.

In addition, 200 2014 Ford Fiestas were recalled for a potential gas tank leaks that could cause a FIRE!

U.S. Regulators Order Chrysler to Explain Delay in Fixing Jeeps


A Year After the Auto Maker Issued a Recall Over Jeep Fuel-Tank Fires, Not A Signle One Repaired!

The U.S. auto safety regulator is pressuring Fiat Chrysler Automobiles F.MI -1.73% NV to speed up repairs to 1.56 million older-model Jeep sport-utility vehicles that have been linked to dozens of deadly fuel-tank fires.


Fiat Chrysler Expands Recall Tied to Ignition Switch Issues

Chrysler said it would now recall more than 695,957 Dodge Journey SUVs from the 2009-2010 model years, 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans and 2008-2010 Chrysler Town and Country minivans after receiving 32 customer complaints and 465 warranty claims because the vehicles inadvertently shut off while driving.


Ford recalls more than 692,000 Escape SUVs
The Associated Press 1:13 p.m. EDT May 9, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 692,000 Escape small SUVs and C-Max gas-electric hybrids in North America to fix two safety problems.

The recalls cover vehicles from the 2013 and 2014 model years. Most of the Escapes have both problems.

The first case covers 692,500 Escape and C-Max vehicles. A software glitch can stop the side curtain air bags from inflating in certain types of rollover crashes. The company says it has no reports of crashes or injuries. Dealers will reprogram the air bag control computer for free.

About 65,000 of the recalled vehicles are C-Max models, and the rest are Escapes. Roughly 591,000 are in the U.S., with 3,500 more in U.S. territories. About 78,000 are in Canada and another 19,500 are in Mexico, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in an e-mail. There could be more vehicles affected in other markets, the company said.

The affected Escapes were built from Oct. 5, 2011 through Feb. 14, 2014. The C-Max vehicles were built from Jan. 19, 2012, through Feb. 24, 2014.

The second case covers about 692,700 Escapes. Exterior door handles can bind and stop the door from latching properly. This could allow doors to open while the SUVs are in motion.

Dealers will inspect the handles and reposition them if needed. No crashes or injuries have been reported.

Back onto the topic of truck technology translating into the auto and pickuptruck world.

Is/Are there are reason(s) why no manufacturer has developed/marketed/produced for the public a split rear end for a full size HD pick up truck?

I see the demise of the manual transmission the rise and progression of the automatic (soon to be avaliable with up to 10 speeds in a pickup). The race for mileage while trying to balance capability, power, marketing and bragging rights. It seems to me a 2 speed selectable (or even some kind of automatic) rear end would provide a tremendous advantage to the manufacturere to offer such an option that would solve many of these issues.


Current thinking has addressed variable ratios in a number of ways. The modern automatics with 8 or 10 ratios are going to be in wide use within a few years.

I actually think the CVT has the potential for these applications.

Long before it was used in vehicles, CVTs ran large machining operations and assembly systems--it's definitely HD enough for trucks. Not sure truck buyers might not associate CVT with eco-weenie compacts and hatchbacks.

My wife's old car had a CVT and it worked great, just took a little getting used to.

@Big Horn 1500

You seem to get the cart before the horse. Jobs exist because of economies, not the other way around. If you could build a productive and competitive business with 10 employees, why would you want 100 of them?

Same principle applies.

And brokers are most risking their own funds, or the money of people who pay them to do it. It's because they know how to do things that machines and microprocessors cannot do.


You know, papajim, there's a difference between a centrifugal clutch and a CVT. Please, do tell us what 'old car' your wife has with a CVT in it.

Now, before you go all hyper on me, I am aware that CVTs existed before Y2K (year 2000). However, the main reason they have failed on all but the weakest cars is that they simply can't take the torque changes in sudden road surface condition. Even a conventional torque converter takes a pretty hard hit if you go from strong traction at high torque, to sudden wheel slippage like from a paint stripe on the road, back to strong traction again. In other words, I find it VERY hard to believe that any CVT is currently capable of handling HD truck duty; even if I do agree that it would be a more ideal (and cheaper) solution than 6-, 8- and 10-speed slushboxes.

No, I'm not saying outright that they don't exist, but I'd certainly like to see an example of one in industrial use since I have worked in several heavy industries and NEVER seen a CVT in use.

I don't know how well the US is fairing in large capacity diesel tech.

Caterpillar is having problem meeting EPA emission requirement for next gen diesel locomotives. GE is in front with this technology.

I wonder if EU tech will hit you shores more and more. The EU has a large exposure in the US heavy vehicle market already via ownership.

The reason the US is behind is due to the want for cheaper energy. The EU has had more rigid FE requirement and with their diesel tech advantage I do think more and more tech and design will come out of the EU and head across the Atlantic.


I dont know if CVT are or are not the answer for trucks. I have owned 2 in my wifes crossovers. One is still too new to know how well it holds up but the other one gave us 189 trouble free miles with only 1 fluid change before we traded it. At the time of trade the CVT was functioning flawlessly with no indication that it would stop doing so. The "general" consensus is that CVT just isnt "tough" enough for trucks/towing/hauling/offroad applications. As I have never seen or heard of one being used in such capacity its probably current conventional wisdom that thats true. Im not saying its never been done just that i have good ears and eyes and havent heard of or seen it myself. Im also not saying it cant be done but again heard or seen an instance? It could happen in the future. Why not anything is possible.

I do know that split rears ARE here. ARE reliable, ARE durable, ARE in damn near every big rig and have been so for decades. It just seems to me that a split rear on an already developed/refined 5 speed auto with a good rep would be at least more reliable than a new untried nasa inspired 10spd that will have the typical development/refinement issues all such things do. But for some reason(s) (that must be very real and that i am completely missing) the manufacturers dont see it this way.

Future is electric


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