Greater connectivity coming to heavy trucks

  • 13-Apr-2012 03:14 EDT
Freightliner Revolution Truck OS.jpg

The Freightliner Revolution Innovation Truck is equipped with a conceptual Truck Operating System (Truck OS) that combines the intelligent onboard truck network with the portability, Internet connectivity, and entertainment options of a tablet device.

Two advanced heavy-truck concepts revealed at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show—the Freightliner Revolution Innovation Truck and Peterbilt’s Model 587 Technology Truck—attempted to capture what the truck interior of the future will look and feel like. Personal connectivity is a big part of that future.

The Revolution is equipped with a conceptual Truck Operating System (Truck OS) that combines the intelligent onboard truck network with the portability, Internet connectivity, and entertainment options of a tablet device. “We wanted to take what exists today and add some things specific for trucking,” said Justin Yee, Manager of Vehicle Concepts for Daimler Trucks North America.

Features include a Smart Navigation device, which combines route mapping, navigation tools, and Internet searches; CB 2.0, which enables driver-to-driver chats; a Load Finder that searches online load boards for jobs; and Truck Health, which works with the truck’s diagnostic system to provide automatic maintenance alerts and then directs the driver to the closest Freightliner dealer.

“This is our way of doing electronic integration, getting rid of having CBs, radios, iPads, and all this stuff, and consolidating to make it easier for the driver,” said Yee. (Click here to see video of the Revolution’s development program.)

The 587 Technology Truck expedites turnaround time of the truck between loads by wirelessly transmitting the status of the truck (mileage, tire pressure, diagnostics, etc.) using 5.9-GHz connectivity, for which Peterbilt partnered with Qualnetics.

Connectivity can be established with the use of any wireless-enabled device, such as a tablet PC that is integrated into the dash but can be removed for use both inside and outside the truck. This interface gives the driver easy access for inspection, diagnostics, live video, tire pressure and temperature monitoring, and onboard scales.

“We’re doing the same kind of functionality as with gauges, we’re just doing it on a tablet PC,” said Bill Kahn, Engineering Manager for Advanced Concepts at Peterbilt. “The key is that there’s one source of all that information. Right now, we’ll put a system up in the headliner for one thing; we’ll put a system over there for another thing, and you’re looking and hearing all this stuff. The ability to put a tablet PC on the dash opens up a lot of opportunity…just by bringing connectivity into the vehicle.”

The 587 Technology Truck also features a configurable display supplied by Continental that “allows you to personalize a vehicle from one person to another,” Kahn said. “Right now, we have a dedicated cluster. You always get this and this and this; if you want to change it, you’ve got tooling that you have to pay for and stuff like that. If you can get people to accept a [configurable] display, then it only involves a software upgrade and the hardware never changes.”

“You see the personalization trend in the automotive industry,” Kahn added. “We really think that’s going to be a serious trend in the future.”

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