In a historic meeting before the senate and on behalf of the trucking industry Mr. Chris Spear, ATA President testified about the potential resulting from rapidly incorporating new technology to assist and improve the movement of cargo throughout the country.
This event marked the first step in creating the regulations and testing for the automated trucks of the very near future. We are not talking about autonomous trucks (the ones that will drive themselves) but the latest technology that will help reduce traffic congestion, emissions to the atmosphere, but will also improve productivity. Like the new Freightliner with SAE Level 2 Technology, this allows the truck to accelerate, decelerate, and steer by itself in certain circumstances. This will still require the driver to be behind the steering wheel to supervise the overall performance just like how airplane pilots work today. Unfortunately according to statistics over 90% of highway accidents are due to human error so automated trucks makes sense in the larger picture for our industry's future.
With this step, I will not be surprised if trucks get to the $200,000 MSRP. We are not that far off that mark today. It's getting harder to get credit approvals on $70,000 trucks, can you imagine $100,000 used trucks? Trucks with better fuel mileage, automated transmissions, and minimum maintenance will run better for longer periods of time. So the trade-ins could be coming in at 700,000K miles? We are already seeing 2016 trades with that kind of mileage.
We are entering a new era, and like it or not, everyone will have to adapt to the new automated vehicles. We won't be selling torque curves, or gear ratios anymore, but we will be experts on vehicle to vehicle connectivity, on demand remote engine repair systems, lane departure settings, radar technology, and self-reverse trailer hook up. Within a year, I expect something like Toyota's Safety Sense to be part of the truck safety package. This, among other features, includes a Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, road sign identifier, and automatic emergency braking. I had the opportunity to test this system and it's almost impossible to enter into a collision.
Congress and regulators now starting to write the first drafts and create the legal framework to get the automated trucks on the road. We must support this change in technology and start familiarizing ourselves with these. History has proven that nothing stays the same, and better trucks can deliver better lives for all. (published on UTA)
A Living Lab for our future.
The biggest Consumer Electronics' show on earth is CES, and it takes place in Las Vegas. For a week industry insiders have the opportunity to see the "future". What it used to be a show about video games and appliances, now incorporates pretty much everything that surround us on our daily lives.
From "smart" appliances, to mobile technology and autonomous vehicles, all these items suppose to make our life easier so we can have time to enjoy life.
As more technology goes into vehicles they have come an important part of the show as well. And what is shown some times can shock the system. One of the things that got my attention this year is the new car, yes a CAR, from Sony. The Japanese company that started with a capital of around $1500 in 1946 making radios , then the Sony-Walkman, and the CD player introduced their own passenger car at the show. And in typical Japanese fashion their significant product launch was a very low key event. But think about it for a second. Sony could put out of business many of today's car makers in just a couple of years.
An interesting partnership was also announced. This one building drones to be certified as helicopters by Hyundai and Uber and to become the taxi service of the future. Not just that but the program includes developing an aerial transportation system that can deliver anything anywhere.
Syntiant ( a computer chip maker) released their NDP100 microwatt-power Neural Decision Processor, which is a chip that is 1/100th the size of a penny and it is capable to run neural workloads. Meaning that AI (Artificial Intelligence) could now be introduced into almost any consumer device so the machine learns about how to work by itself , how you use the product and the environment that surrounds it. If you take it a step further in could be incorporated into a car so the "machine" itself learns how to drive a vehicle on its own. Think about that ramification.
To top it all Toyota announced the construction of the "city of the future" on a 175 acre space in Japan. This Woven City, as it is called, will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. A place where people of all ages will be moving in to live with machines of all kind. The Smart city will be a living laboratory to test the interaction of human beings with the world of robotics, personal mobility, artificial intelligence, and autonomous transportation. The city's infrastructure will be all digital and buildings, people, and vehicles will all be connected with each other through data and sensors that will enable the testing of AI technology. Additionally the company invested another $100 million dollars into Toyota AI Ventures, a subsidiary of the automaker, to further "discover what is next for " this company. Like for most automakers the "car of tomorrow" may not be a car at all and to keep in business they may have to adapt to something totally different. And on that note Goodyear announced the creation of new $100 million fund to focus the next generation of public mobility.
How all this huge investments are going to pay off is anybody's guess at this point. Transportation revolutions has started. Who will be "providing" or "driving" commercial vehicles 25 years from now I can't imagine.
In the meantime I do recommend the Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED or the Sony XBR Z8H 8K tv's to enjoy the superbowl like never before. With HDR and 8K X-tended Dynamic range Pro these TV's show the benefit of high-end LCDs over the OLED counterparts. Although the TCL's Vidrian Mini_LED backlight system can give these 2 a run for the money. Sit down and enjoy life with a big screen. Don't understand the TV tech talk? find a millennial to translate it for you ( I had to). Technology advances are moving faster than ever and in so many different areas that is not possible to keep up with it all. Lets be careful that we don't loose the control due to the search of technologies that would gives us "free time to enjoy life".
It already happen.
In 1942 Siemens AG installed the first closed circuit T V system to monitor the launch of the V-2 rockets. This later became the first and most popular surveillance and security camera system around the world. In 1954 Lockheed presented the plans for a vessel to carry cameras at high altitude. Approved by President Eisenhower and the CIA the underground "Skunk Works" shop produced such an airplane to basically photograph and map the whole planet earth (including foreign territories). In the 60's the Department of Defense started developing systems to track underwater submarines across the globe. And in 1978 NAVSTAR (Navigation System with Timing and Ranging) came to life with 24 satellites in space. This system known today as GPS was operated exclusively by the USAF until two decades ago. During the 80's to reduce the time from taking the photo, developing the film, and printing a photograph the scientists worked with the defense dept. on a new digital imaging technology and a way to transmit this images through space.
All along since the 1960's the US military searched for a way to communicate among almost 1000 bases in 70 countries around the world. In Palo Alto, CA, as well as in France's government network Cyclades, England's National Physical Laboratory and XEROX company, there were engineers working on new ways to transmit data from place to place. A research team was created within the US Defense Dept. to fund some of these projects under the ARPA name. This Advanced Research Projects Agency and it's military necessity would create what we know now today as the internet.
Google search engine has opened the world to everyone. Anything you need to learn about can be found with just a few strokes on the keyboard. But at the same time Google can track you and everyone else. Google can already profile your purchases, your home, your financial status, and even your taste in food and clothes. So it is not surprise that Google 's Titan company, which builds drones that fly at above 60,000 ft, are being used under contract by US military to survey the world (this is my assumption since there is no way to confirm that yet and also why would Google invest millions on 60,000 ft altitude drones).
All this technologies mentioned above have been incorporated and packaged into a small device that you carry with you at all times. And they seem to work well. So much that for many people they wouldn't be able to go through the day without one of this devices that we still call a "phone". The Pentagon is going to take us into the next step now. And if history is proof of concept, the technology will work as well as your phones today. I am referring to the 3.5 billion dollar investment into unmanned technology. Forget the Tesla, Waymo, and car makers. There is already a platoon of trucks driving themselves fully loaded with cargo that includes weapons. At Fort Bliss, TX ten trucks passed the driving test trials. The US military is getting another 50 (that we know of) trucks to continue with the development of deliveries in difficult territory. In two or three decades from now the delivery of goods will be a totally different enterprise. And the roots of the technology that will prevail i'm betting that will come from DARPA, the newest research branch of the military.