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Autonomous Trucks: Technology of the… not so Future?

Autonomous Trucks: Technology of the… not so Future?

A few months after the unveiling of the Inspiration Truck it still seems like a glimpse into the future. The idea of a truck that can drive itself almost ranks right up there with hover boards. It is amazing to realize that the technology that allows this amazing thing to happen is not really all that new or futuristic. The Inspiration Truck is an incredible step forward no doubt. Yet the systems that it uses are actually systems that are widely in use in other vehicles already. These systems include:

  • Specialized cameras to track lane markings.
  • Two separate radar systems.
  • GPS vehicle tracking systems
  • And a Detroit DT12 automated, manual transmission

What makes the Inspiration truck unique is the Highway Pilot control that brings all these individual systems together. Basically, Highway Pilot takes signals from all of the systems and transmits commands to an electric servo motor to control steering wheel movements. Ultimately, autonomous control comes from taking complete advantage of the existing technologies.

Each of these systems has been tested over time and proven to have advantages in safety. Inspiration’s Highway Pilot has not diminished those features in any way. CCJ’s Jack Roberts reported that each of the system’s sensors must give the all clear before Highway Pilot can take control. For example, the cameras must see clearly defined lane markings. The GPS system must have a strong signal, and the radars must have uncluttered acuity. If those conditions are not met then Highway Pilot can not take over control. However, when the conditions are met, the driver can rest and enjoy a safe ride.

 

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Roberts recently had the opportunity to learn how to drive the Inspiration truck. During his lessons, he got to experience the amazing sensation of letting go of the steering wheel while cruising down the highway. He also got to experience the safety advantage of using Highway Pilot. He reports that during his lessons there was a strong crosswind. This crosswind even caused him to graze the rumble strips at one point before activating Highway Pilot. But, he reports, once the truck took over he was quickly and easily corrected back to the center of his lane. The ride from there out was smooth sailing.

Take a look at Jack’s full report on his experience over at CCJ’s website.

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