As I was getting ready for the TMC Future Truck and Far Horizon meeting on Sunday, I had to throw away some of the ideas I've had since the last meeting in February. There is so much to cover regarding developments in fuel economy regulations, the 21st Century Truck Partnership and the SuperTruck program, connected and automated vehicle operation, wearable computers and more; I just could not fit it all into the limited time available.
What if? That's what we engineers are always asking. What if we had a self-learning truck? What if it could improve its fuel economy over time based on how the vehicle is actually used? What if it could improve criteria emissions from the engine over time based on how it is used? What if it could adjust the temperature of different parts based on the current weather? What if an engine/transmission could adjust torque based on what is needed rather than what the driver is asking for? What if oil change intervals could be extended by learning how the vehicle is used?
We have some of this today, with automated transmissions that shift properly based on sensing engine RPM decay; we have collision mitigation systems that learn the position of the antenna to some extent; some passenger cars tell you when they need their oil changed, rather than doing it on a fixed mileage/hour schedule. What if a truck could calculate the best speed to get through the city taking into account traffic lights and congestion? What if our trucks were part of an Intelligent Transportation System? They will be. Just as Netflix and Amazon, and websites "learn" what we like or want to see, so too will the future truck learn what is best for delivering the freight safely, reliably and cost effectively.