Technology in Trucking – Simulators and More

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What was it like in the old days?

new truck driver technologyAn old veteran of the road once told me, “We’ve come a long way from the days of telephone booths and individual city maps.” That’s right, technology in trucking has advanced pretty fast in the last three decades. Especially when you are talking about the only contact you would have with dispatchers and loved ones was thru a phone booth at a truck stop. And much of the truck drivers time was spent waiting on hold for their turn at 45 seconds worth of a conversation. I can certainly understand the solitude and frustration this would have on a truckers overall demeanor. Think about it, if you were only able to speak with your loved ones once a day or even once a week that would be torture. Now with the technology in trucking advancing faster and faster. We don’t have to worry about going to a truck stop to speak to our loved ones. Just think 15 years ago cell phones were still pretty scarce. However, now there are new laws requiring us to use a new technology in trucking. The bluetooth earpiece or headset. They even have bluetooth technology in our CB radios now!

Today’s advancements of technology in trucking

Sometimes when I’m tired and complaining that I can’t get a good WiFi signal where I am at,  I wonder if I’ll get back into a 4G signal sometime soon. I have to take a step back and realize how easy we have it with all of the technology in trucking today. With the new versions of the Qualcomm and PeopleNet units we have GPS onboard. And some drivers solely rely on their GPS units. If I don’t know the area I am using, all of the technology available to me. Including my old trusty atlas, Google Maps and then I match everything up on the fuel route with the GPS to make sure I will be going the right direction. Heck we can even use street view on Google Maps to see if we can fit our big truck into where we are going. One thing that I have come to notice here lately. Is that I see many truck drivers still driving without a bluetooth headset. I really don’t see why they don’t go buy a bluetooth rather than picking up a ticket that would be more than the cost of the headset.

Technology in trucking is being noticed by the companies

I know firsthand that Fedex Freight has early accident warning detection systems in their trucks. They have sensors all over the truck that send an audible tone to the driver when you are close to another vehicle. We also have some companies investing in trucking simulators. I recently read an article about Bison Trucking in Canada having one such simulator.   I’ve heard that Swift Transportation has about 6 or 7 trucking simulators company wide all over the country. Have you spent time in a simulator for your company? I have and my personal opinion is that they really don’t help. They don’t properly simulate driving conditions. However, they are a good tool for the “what if” game. I mean after all when we are driving we constantly should be playing the “what if” game. The only problem with the real world scenario is that most of the time things don’t happen. So you can actually cause things to happen with the simulator. And that gets you thinking, and that is the good part about the simulator.

Where are we going with technology in trucking in the future?

This is an interesting question. The answer to this questions could be the demise of the trucking industry as we know it. In the article about the simulator I referenced earlier they talk about drivers being called “pilots”. And I have also read many articles about the new train technology in trucking. This is essentially a lead vehicle manned by a real human. That leads a train of semi trucks that have sensors in them. And they react to the lead vehicle. This is part of the self driving vehicles that everyone is so excited about. I’m not too sure that this is a practical solution to the trucking industry. I think that for that one driver to take care of maintenance items, back all of the trailers in and so on. Would create way too much work for that one driver. As well as the complicated adjustments you have to make while you are driving on snow, ice or other inclement weather. I think we are still a ways away from self driving trucks. So for now keep on trucking and let’s be amazed at what advancements we get with the new technology in trucking over the next several years.

As always let us know your thoughts about our articles and engage in the conversation in our forums. And be safe out there.