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Connected Technology and Autonomous Trucking: Then, Now, and in the Future

Connected Technology and Autonomous Trucking: Then, Now, and in the Future

August 30, 2021 | ConMet

Fueled by an unrelenting need to increase safety and optimize efficiencies, connected technology is shaping the future of transportation and bringing the industry another step closer to autonomous trucking.

In the commercial vehicle industry, professionals are always looking to enhance key areas of their business, from the total cost of ownership of their assets to the wellbeing of their employees. The desire for continuous improvement has been driving innovation in the industry for decades. In today's world of Big Data, sights are now set on autonomous solutions and connected technology is paving the way.

THEN: The growing need for connected technologies
No matter the size of a fleet, major cost drivers and concerns have historically been the same.

Safety is and always will be a top priority. Though warning signs are often present when there is risk of malfunction, issues can go unnoticed during pre- and post-trip inspections. Some of these problems can often lead to tire-tread separation, flat tires, brake seizures, or uneven load distribution, for example. In more severe cases, thermal events and wheel-offs can happen. These events not only affect the safety of operators and other cars on the road, but cause downtime and impact asset utilization and the fleet's total cost of ownership. These are major areas of concern that have been the driving force for innovation in the industry.

Solutions in the past have been incomplete and disjointed, requiring several data sources and manual processes to interpret the data. As technology evolves, the demand is growing for more streamlined, smarter solutions to help improve safety, maximize uptime, and optimize fleets' operations.

NOW: Unlocking the potential of data
Through decades of industry and component-specific knowledge, data science, and machine learning, the newly formed ConMet Digital provides a comprehensive view of the tractor-trailer and its data.

Strategically placed wireless sensors connected to a flexible Vehicle Area Network (VAN) monitor the condition of hubs, tires, brakes, axles, and air lines, while an array of proprietary algorithms interprets the data and serves up actionable intelligence in real time. This empowers drivers, owners, and fleet managers to take action that will help:

  • Simplify and enhance pre- and post-trip inspections
  • Limit roadside wheel end repairs
  • Increase fuel efficiency
  • Strengthen driver satisfaction and retention
  • Extend the service life and improve performance across the wheel end ecosystem
  • Improve vehicle total cost of ownership

This digitalization is the architecture for what’s next in the commercial vehicle industry.

FUTURE: Ushering in a new era of trucking
So what does the future of connected technology look like? Autonomous applications depend on precise, accurate data so the best decisions can be made in real time. This is critical for all functions of a tractor-trailer vehicle to autonomously accelerate, brake, and steer, and to alert the operator of a potential issue. This architecture is already being developed by ConMet Digital through their flexible Vehicle Area Network.

The versatility of ConMet Digital's wireless sensors can provide insight into areas that would otherwise be invisible. The wheel end, for example has historically relied on visual inspections and timed maintenance. It is also an area that has some of the most severe implications for safety, uptime, and cost if a failure were to occur. Thanks to ConMet Digital's many years of industry experience, they are able to autonomously pinpoint very early warning signs in the wheel end ecosystem that are unseen by the human eye. The real-time visibility into the wheel end, and other areas across the tractor-trailer, is a vital component to the success of tomorrow's autonomous commercial vehicles.

Through the analysis of historical and present data using cutting-edge machine learning and statistical modeling techniques, ConMet Digital is evolving from health monitoring, to diagnostics, and then to predictive analytics. ConMet's digital products and services are setting the stage to enable a reliable transition from 100% human driving to full self-driving commercial vehicles.

To learn more about ConMet Digital’s connected solutions, visit conmet.com/digital.

VANCOUVER, WA | by Paul Washicko, VP & GM ConMet Digital Business Unit