Catching a Glimpse of Trucking’s Future

Waymo A Freightliner Cascadia equipped with the latest generation of Waymo's autonomous technology was on display at ATA's Management Conference & Exhibition in San Diego in October. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

[Find the latest in trucking technology: Explore this quarter's issue of iTECH]

The exhibit hall at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition has long served as a major venue for truck manufacturers, industry suppliers and technology vendors to showcase their latest products and share their vision for the future of freight transportation.

This year’s event, which ran Oct. 22-25 at the San Diego Convention Center, was no exception.

In fact, the exhibits at MCE 2022 stood out as a clear example of how emerging technologies — once seen as futuristic or mere fantasy — are beginning to make their way into the trucking industry.



On the equipment side, the exhibit hall featured a handful of Class 8 trucks outfitted with autonomous driving systems, as well as battery-electric models and a concept vehicle demonstrating a variety of innovations designed to further enhance freight efficiency.

Seth Clevenger

Clevenger

Multiple truck manufacturers and their self-driving technology partners showed highway tractors fitted with sensors and software designed to eventually enable highly automated driving. In contrast to previous autonomous truck prototypes, these vehicles featured more refined, production-ready sensor suites that were not simply bolted on but incorporated into the overall vehicle design.

Examples included a Freightliner Cascadia equipped with Waymo’s latest generation self-driving technology and an International tractor featuring TuSimple’s autonomous driving system.

Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt all displayed tractors with the Aurora Driver and sensor stack tightly integrated with each vehicle.

The MCE exhibit hall also highlighted the recent introduction of heavy-duty vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions in certain trucking applications.

Multiple truck makers displayed battery-electric Class 8 tractors — not prototypes but production models that fleets are ordering and deploying today.

At the same time, Peterbilt Motors Co. unveiled its SuperTruck II concept vehicle, designed to demonstrate technologies that can drive further gains in freight efficiency.

The truck, which featured an aggressively aerodynamic chassis design, a mild hybrid system to reduce demand on the diesel engine, plus a waste-heat recovery system, a camera-based vision system and numerous other technologies and innovations, was the result of a research and development project co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The MCE exhibit hall also captured the pulse of technology trends in fleet management technology.

Industry technology developers showed attendees an extensive menu of software and hardware options to better monitor and support their freight operations.

In particular, vendors showcased driver coaching applications and video-based safety technologies designed to promote safer and more fuel-efficient driving.

Technology suppliers also illustrated how they are applying machine learning and back-office automation to help transportation firms further streamline their business processes and better position their businesses for the future.

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