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Today trucks carry 70% of US commercial freight. [1]  The future of trucks and trucking matters to all of us. [4] Many existing technologies could benefit both the US trucking industry and the public and could be applied without delay. The relatively rapid turn-over of equipment in the industry—the current average age of US trucks is 6.7 years—means technologies could quickly produce an impact . Here is a list of existing technologies that could reduce total US greenhouse gas emissions by 5%, improve truck driving experience, and improve truck security.

Reduced emissions   9% of all US greenhouse gas emissions result from truck transport (22% of the 40% produced by the transportation sector). [12]
• Improved fuel efficiency [3]—Better trucks could almost double fuel efficiency from the 7 mpg best current ratings to 12 mpg as with the new Mercedes Actros. This could reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by perhaps 4% total in less than a decade.
• A flywheel system could store energy from braking to help in acceleration [9] and further reduce truck fuel consumption in stop and go driving.
• Improved loading schemes [11] More than 25% of the trucks on the road at any given time are driving empty. If this could be halved to 12.5% with the use of more clever dispatching, freight terminal schemes, and load-sharing, this would further reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 1%.
• Upgrade of US Highways [2] to improve efficiency. For example, reference 2 is a list of 250 highway bottlenecks. Is your city included?

Better technology and improved driving experience   A growing problem facing the US trucking industry is a shortage of drivers. A better, less wearing, driving experience would increase driver retention and make the industry more attractive to job seekers.
• Quiet [5] Today’s trucks are noisy both inside and outside. Better exhaust systems (and better compressive braking), better cabin design, better design of refrigeration compressors, etc could together produce quieter trucks.
• All-wheel steering [7] for more nimble truck handling.
• Automatic transmissions can dramatically reduce the driver workload and improve productivity. [15]
• Drive-by-wire (also called “x-by-wire”) [8] This would permit any qualified person to drive a truck because little physical strength would be required. Truck brakes and steering could be set to require very little input.
• Computer-aided driving—pedestrian avoidance, collision avoidance, improved computer-aided braking, foul-weather handling, etc could improve the driving experience and improve safety. [17]
• Rear-view video cameras would eliminate blind spots behind trucks. [14]
• Improved cell-phones and other communications channels carefully engineered to reduce driver distraction. [16]
• Better human-truck interface—a “glass cockpit” [13] A great deal of the instruments on a truck fail to convey their full import to the driver. Today’s driver must interpret the gauge readings and constantly check for any that are amiss. If all the sensor inputs were integrated by a computer and displayed on flat screens in a more meaningful and intuitive way, this would reduce distraction, confusion, and mistakes in the cab. Further, it could improve reliability by giving advance warning of pending problems so they could be addressed in a shop instead of on the road. The computer could also give verbal warnings as appropriate.

Improved truck security
• Tracking—As part of licensing requirements trucks could be required to be continually logged into cell phone or satellite tracking system. [12]
• Automated driver logs [6] linked with GPS data could automatically submit records to regulators—eliminating time spent on updating logs and ensuring that there is no fudging of the records.
• RFID driver’s licenses [10] Trucks could be engineered to only start if sensors detect a valid RFID driver’s license in the cab.


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