Autonomous Driving Vehicles – Are We Ready?

Are we ready for autonomous driving technology?

Autonomous driving using AI and robotics has received a lot of press lately.  Investors are funneling capital into new companies competing for the next big breakthrough.  Some say as early as next year we could be sharing the roads with trucks employing this high tech!  Put simply, having large trucks that drive themselves in the lane next to your small car or truck is a bit unsettling, but we have never had the option of holding back progress.

Plus’s Self-Driving Truck Completes Industry’s First Cross-Country Commercial Freight Run Posted 12/10/2019

Autonomous driving vehicles are already successfully being used for the more repetitive tasks in shipping yards.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, and one of the biggest concerns noted by experts in the field of AI, is that the push is on for too much too fast.  Will safety be sacrificed by the ones that get there first?  The challenges are highly complex.  For example, things that a human driver can easily compensate for such as a road sign with graffiti, mud, or snow on it, are more difficult for AI to interpret.  With the potential for the limitless “one-off” situations that drivers routinely encounter, the task is huge to develop AI that can “learn” quickly enough to adapt to new situations presented to it.

Another concern of note is related to the laser technology used in many of the autonomous driving systems currently under development.  It is commonly known as Lidar.  Lidar employs laser beams to “see” the vehicle’s surroundings.  The wavelengths used are already restricted in the US to prevent potential human eye damage.  Additionally, they can cause damage to some types of camera sensors.  As we pack more electronics onto more vehicles, there is the potential for the tech on one vehicle to damage or disable the tech on another.

Finally, there are concerns about what the future will be for professional truckers.  For at least the short term, the consensus is that a “driver” to observe and intervene if necessary would still be needed in autonomous vehicles.  This is making the field more attractive to women and may actually have a positive impact on current driver shortages.  Ultimately, the point of autonomous vehicles is to remove the driver entirely.  How drivers use their resources and experience in the cab working alongside AI may well determine their future in the industry.

Where does that leave us?

At this point, we still have more questions than answers and many legitimate concerns.  Still, sharing the road with autonomous driving vehicles is closer than we might have imagined.  It is prudent for all of us human drivers to be defensive drivers, rather than being the ones to test the limits of this new technology and finding its flaws the hard way.

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Sleeper Cabs and the Reality of Living on the Road

Sleeper Cabs – What are they like?

After reading a recent post on American Trucker about the growing popularity of comfort and convenience in sleeper cabs we decided to dig a little deeper into what today’s sleeper cabs look like.  What we found was enough to make us all ready for a road trip.  Thinking back to the sleeper cabs of yesteryear we were not expecting much, but found today’s high end sleeper cabs more like what we would expect in a luxury motor coach.

Just check out these luxury interiors displayed on Core77.com.

While the majority of sleeper cabs are not quite that luxurious, they are quite comfortable and designed with driver safety in mind.  Ultimately, choosing a career as a long haul trucker has its perks.  With a modern home on 18 wheels to live and work in, an owner operator can comfortably see the country while earning a good living.  As a result, the growing level of comfort and convenience may attract more young drivers to a career on the road. Hopefully, more commercial transport companies will invest in well-appointed sleeper cabs for their long haul drivers.   

Life on the Road

All of this led us to take a closer look at what life is like for today’s drivers. We  found it interesting to hear their stories and see how they live and work in small spaces on the road.  Here is just a sampling of the very cool sleeper cabs we found, along with drivers and some sales professionals we “met”.  We thank them for allowing us to take a peek into their homes.

Standard Sleeper Cabs

Cinnamon Shows us Her 2019 Cascadia

TracyB’s Home on 18 Wheels

The Trucking Couple Inside 120″ Sleeper Cab

Bigger and Better Extended Cabs

Jerome and Barb Silvers 2017 Peterbilt 220”

2020 Western Star 5700XE Extended Sleeper

On the Spot with Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft

2020 Volvo VNL with 180″ ARI Legacy

Jerome and Barb Silvers 2017 Peterbilt 220”

2020 Western Star 5700XE Extended Sleeper

On the Spot with Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft

2020 Volvo VNL with 180″ ARI Legacy

We hope you have enjoyed our virtual trucker home show and ask you to remember with appreciation the trucking community.  Nearly everything you use on a daily basis made its way to you thanks to them!

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Free Safety Apps for Consumers and Citizens

Why Free Safety Apps?

Contributed by Kim Thoman, Business Analyst

At Fleetistics, we always tell our customers that our goal is for “Every driver to come home safely every day”. As a business we are primarily focused on fleet vehicles, however safety should be a priority in our everyday lives as well. There are many free safety apps available, both crowd sourced and commercially sponsored.  We selected three to test and review for our readers.

SaferCar – Free Safety App for Vehicle Recalls

SaferCar for iPhone

iPhone QR Code

SaferCar on Google Play

Android QR Code

Did you know that one in four vehicles on the road has an unrepaired recall? That is a huge safety risk. If one of your vehicles has a recall, wouldn’t you like to know exactly what it is and what the next steps are? The SaferCar App keeps consumers aware of the latest information about recalls which is a top priority for the National Highway, Transportation and Safety Administration, NHTSA.

After you download the SaferCar free safety app, you have the ability to set up your virtual garage. You can add as many vehicles as you like as well as related equipment like tires, trailers and car seats. Once the information is entered you can enable notification for all related recalls.  It will even point you to local dealerships handling vehicle repairs so you can make the necessary appointments and get it fixed for free.

NHTSA’s mission is focused on consumer safety, but they are also determined to protect your privacy. There are no sales gimmicks, and your information remains completely private. The SaferCar app not only keeps you safe, it’s also secure. After testing this app we would recommend it to all consumers.

SaferCar Free Safety App

Recall Alert & Safety News Notification

Recall Alert for iPhone

iPhone QR Code

Recall Alert on Google Play

Android QR Code

Our next featured free safety app is Recall Alert and Safety News Notifications. If you want to know about every product recall everywhere on earth this is a great app.  It is not necessarily the right app if you are only interested in local recalls that affect you personally.  If your profession requires that you stay on top of all kinds of product safety issues, this is the app to have, but an update alert on taco dip trays and platters at 3:00 am is a bit over the top for most of our interests.

The app allows for search by category like Toys, Furniture, Vehicles, and Medical. Ultimately, there is great value in consulting the app prior to purchasing items to verify there are no recalls.  On the other hand, it delivers far too much information for the average busy person to consume.  Without any settings to filter the alerts to specific areas of interest, we found it to be annoying.  If only the alerts could be filtered effectively it would be a 5 star app.

Recall Alert Free Safety App

PubSafe by Aftermath Data

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PubSafe for iPhone

iPhone QR Code

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PubSafe on Google Play

Android QR Code

PubSafe by Aftermath Data is a global community ready to help others.  It allows users to give help, get help, and share information in real-time. It is the world’s only network for citizens by citizens.  Furthermore it is available to governments and non-government relief and rescue organizations.

Simply put the PubSafe mobile app facilitates real-time information sharing with other users. Users in the area are alerted when a help or emergency is posted. Additionally, users can report the location of animals in need or rescue. If a flood is imminent and you need help moving horses, post a help request. The opportunity to help others is endless and PubSafe connects people effectively and efficiently with integrated maps.

Key App Features

DESIGNED FOR CITIZENS

  • Map information for situation awareness and rapid response
  • Enable neighbors to help each other
  • Every citizen is a source of information for the collective effort
  • Volunteer NGOs and SAR team rescues
  • Churches & non-profit targeted relief
  • Government 911 overflow and situational awareness
  • Animal rescue groups
FEATURES

  • Share your last known location
  • Active shooter alert
  • Share updates on the situation in your area
  • Request help and give help to people and animals
  • Map and update shelters and NGO staging area
  • Post emergencies – Rooftop flood rescue, active shooter
  • Share data for research to improve large scale response
  • Share video & images with first responders and animal rescue teams
  • Log volunteer hours for FEMA reimbursement

Citizen damage assessments

PubSafe Free Safety App
We highly recommend PubSafe by Aftermath Data and encourage you to install now to be ready when the unexpected occurs.  Considering the massive winter storms we have experienced this season, another hurricane season right around the corner, and who knows what direction the COVID pandemic could turn, it just makes sense for citizens to be ready and able to work together to get help to those who need it.
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Optimized Routing Generates Huge Impact – Video Post

Optimized Routing can be the game changer your company is looking for.

Enjoy our two part discussion about optimized routing with Sean Stenson.  Each part runs about 15 minutes.  We asked Sean some tough questions to get you the answers you are looking for.  Learn how automating your routing process can be a game changer.

Call Fleetistics today to arrange a consultation and demo.

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6 Ways DashCam Investment Pays Off

DashCam Investment Can Reduce Insurance Cost in Many Ways

It is no mystery that video footage will have a major impact in the event your driver is involved in an accident.  Four of the six ways on our list are clearly related to managing risk and reducing insurance related costs.

1. Some commercial insurers offer a direct discount for having dahscams. Dash cams reduce overall risk and streamline the claims process resulting in lower premiums.

2. Protection from false claims against your drivers. Many damage claims are based on one person’s word against another. DashCam recordings of events can shut that down in a hurry.

3. Protection from staged crash claims is another benefit. Commercial trucks are often the targets of criminals staging crashes or personal injury incidents because commercial pockets tend to be deeper than individuals, and some commercial trucks follow a predictable routine. DashCam footage proves what really happened.

4. Having video footage speeds up the claims process resulting in less vehicle down time, quicker reimbursement, and less time spent “testifying”. All of these present additional ROI.

DashCam Investment Contributes to Accident Prevention

5. DashCams help you to prevent future collisions by identifying & correcting distracted driving behavior through event triggered video captures.  Fewer accidents also mean fewer premium increases, but that is just the beginning. The cost of an accident adds up fast.  Bent metal, damaged goods, vehicle down time, employee down time and injury related costs, services/stops missed, and potential litigation top the list.   It is not uncommon for the final cost of a commercial vehicle collision to exceed $100,000.

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CrewChief - dashcam

DashCam Investment for Improved Supervision

6. Often overlooked by management is Driving Attitude. Why?  Because they have no way to know unless they ride with the driver, OR, have dashcams.  Honestly, in cab footage can be uncomfortable to view, but it offers insight into much more than if a driver is smoking in the vehicle or using his cell phone.  A driver with a great attitude looks a lot different on camera than a driver with a bad attitude.  When I see video of a driver who is calm and collected, smiling, sometimes singing along with the radio, I think yes, he enjoys his job and I want a driver like that to deliver my goods and services.  When I see video of a driver who looks angry with the world or makes inappropriate hand gestures at others, even the one who is rocking out – more focused on the music playing than the job at hand, I think wow, hope they never send that one to my door.

What Are the Signs?

From a business perspective, knowing who to encourage is just as important as knowing who to counsel.  And there is scientific data to support that attitude affects driving behavior.  According to Science Direct, “Hazard response times and eye tracking data suggest sadness can have a negative impact on driving behavior.”  Your odds of getting in a collision are 10 times higher when you’re angry or sad, according to Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute.  Notice in the video below from our CrewChief™ DashCam, the driver’s expression during the harsh braking event as it starts and the hard turning event at about 20 seconds.

We can all relate to the fact that driving while upset or angry will bring out aggressive driving habits.  We are not suggesting that you spend a lot of time evaluating in cab driver footage, but noticing the body language that indicates attitude during your routine review of event triggered video could help you to identify drivers that need some coaching or encouragement.  Over time a Manager can learn a lot about a driver’s strengths and weaknesses by viewing the in cab video.  Also, if you are concerned there might be issues with a driver, a quick review of in cab footage may give you some perspective regarding those concerns.

How Will Your DashCam Investment Pay Off?

DashCams certainly provide the measurable dollar ROI, but they can also be used to capture the more elusive human ROI.  By better understanding through video things like job satisfaction, driver loyalty, anger issues, depression, and customer satisfaction skills, management can “get to know” employees that they have little personal contact with.   That may be the greatest ROI of all.

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