The consensus in the logistics industry is that older, experienced drivers are not as likely to embrace technology that could make their trucking jobs easier. Whether that’s true or not is a matter of debate. What is not debatable is the fact that even the most experienced drivers can benefit from technology.
A good case in point is a new system now being tested in Europe. The system involves a specially designed app and a tablet computer that can be used to safely back a truck with tandem trailers. Backing these rigs typically takes a significant amount of skill that not a lot of drivers possess. But with this technology, just about anyone can complete the job with a few swipes of a finger.
Backing Is Safer and Faster
Among the early developers of the backing technology is a German company, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, already well-known for its commercial vehicle technology. They have developed an impressive system that utilizes electric steering, an automated transmission, and sophisticated software to control rigs with tandem trailers.
In order to back such a rig, the operator uses a tablet to designate where he or she wants the rig parked. By selecting the rearmost trailer in the combination and swiping left or right, the operator then activates the software to begin backing the rig into place. The software eventually takes over completely. It pushes and pulls the rig safely and efficiently until it is parked.
The system is impressive enough by itself. What makes it so important is the fact that Europe is just beginning to warm up to the idea of tandem trailers. Logistics companies are working overtime to prove that tandems can be operated safely so they can get the legal approval to put more of them on the road. Backing is a big part of what they are working on.
Helpful When Used Properly
Back here at home, experienced drivers need not be afraid of technology. Properly designed technology can make the driver’s life a lot easier when used as intended. When drivers resist it or don’t put forth the effort to learn how to use it properly, technology can get out of hand quickly.
So, what are some of the latest technologies coming down the pike? The first that comes to mind is electronic logging. Now that all trucking companies will be required to implement an electronic logging system, some are already installing hardware and software now to give drivers enough time to get used to it before the mandate kicks in.
Owner-operators are joining the era of technology by way of mobile apps that help them locate loads. The best apps make it possible for drivers and shippers to complete their transactions online with very little human interaction necessary. Apps can be used to help the owner-operator run his/her business.
All of this technology leads to a very intriguing question: will it ever make the need for human drivers completely unnecessary? Probably not. As much as futurists would love to see automated motor vehicles become the norm, the likelihood of trucks driving down the highway without experienced drivers behind the wheel is not all that great.
Aeroplanes have had autopilot technology available for decades, but commercial airliners still have pilots in their seats. There is just too much that can go wrong to automate the flying altogether. The same applies to truck driving. The need for experienced drivers will always be there regardless of how automated systems become. So drivers, do not be afraid of technology. It can actually help make your life easier.