Automating trucks will improve safety

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Words: Robert Barry
13 Dec 2018

According to UD Trucks connected and automated heavy commercial vehicles will improve efficiency, safety and productivity in confined areas.

The Volvo Group brand held its first public demonstration of Level 4 (L4) automation for heavy-duty trucks attended by media and business partners the UD Experience Center at its headquarters in Ageo, Saitama on December 12.

The course emulated the real-use conditions of heavy-duty trucks in confined areas such as ports, factories, warehouses and construction sites, where automation technology will help improve efficiency, safety and productivity.

L4 automation is the last step towards fully-automated transportation, where the driver can give the vehicle full autonomy over every aspect of driving. The demonstration highlighted automation technologies including GPS, radar, Lidar, onboard camera and software which enable such high-precision automation for starting, stopping, slaloming, U-turns and reverse driving.

Balancing and maneuvering heavy-duty payloads in unexpected road conditions requires a high level of expertise, especially in steering technology. The UD Quon heavy duty truck will help stabilise automated driving with the Escot VI AMT transmission and its proven steering system.

UD Trucks is currently participating in the Japanese government’s highway platooning projects, and will continuously improve the accuracy and safety of automation technologies including vehicle-to-vehicle communications and lane keeping assistance.

As part of the Volvo Group, UD Trucks has access to a wealth of testing data that it uses to improve automation and connectivity technology to suit the unique needs of each customer. It aims to partner with companies across the logistics industry and beyond to refine its technology through a strategy of “building knowledge while testing.”

“Today’s demonstration is a major step toward practical application of this technology by 2020. Our heavy-duty truck Quon, launched in 2017, contains a sophisticated vehicle control system, which is the base of our automation technology,” says UD Trucks technology senior vice president Douglas Nakano.

“Based on the Quon, UD Trucks will continue to develop more advanced automation technology to address the needs of our customers everywhere and provide the trucks the world needs today. In doing so, we want to drive open discussion together with our business partners. We hope this public demonstration will be the opportunity to start that discussion.”

UD Trucks’ automation technology “Fujin”—named for the Japanese god of wind—is one of the two pillars of the Fujin & Raijin Vision 2030 innovation roadmap announced in April 2018.

The innovation roadmap lays out solutions for global issues facing the logistics industry, such as the need to reduce CO2 emissions, the growing scale of e-commerce, and driver shortages.

UD Trucks will continue demonstrations of autonomous driving and electric drive prototypes, aiming to complete field tests and customer trials ahead of Tokyo Motor Show 2019—with a view toward daily operation by 2020 and commercialization of fully-electric trucks and autonomous trucks by 2030.

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