Connect with us

Technology

Mainstream autos get driver-monitoring devices

Published

on

This image provided by Subaru shows Subaru’s “DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System.” The system uses a dashboard camera to watch the driver’s eyes and face. If it sees the driver is looking away from in front of the vehicle for an extended period, it will beep and the message “Keep eyes on road” will show on the dashboard. The system watches for heads nodding or someone talking on the phone or texting, or even looking into the back seat, said Subaru spokesman Ron Kiino. (Associated Press: TOSHI OKU/Subaru of America)

DETROIT — Would you pay more for a car or SUV that warns you if you’re falling asleep or not paying attention behind the wheel?

Auto companies are figuring that because your life could depend on it, you will.

As safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane-centering make their way from luxury vehicles down to lower-cost rides for the masses, distracted driver alert systems are coming with them. At last month’s New York International Auto Show, Hyundai and Subaru both announced such systems in mainstream vehicles.

Every day, at least nine people are killed in the U.S. and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the Newsal Safety Council. Drivers who are preoccupied by cellphones, dashboard touch screens and other distractions caused 3,157 fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2016, the latest year that government statistics were available. That’s 9% of all fatal crashes in the country.

Distracted driver alert systems started showing up in luxury cars about a decade ago. Mercedes-Benz had a system that displayed a lighted coffee cup icon on the dashboard. Over the years they’ve become more sophisticated and made their way into mainstream vehicles, usually on pricier versions.

For instance, Subaru’s “DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System” uses a dashboard camera to watch the driver’s eyes and face. If it sees the driver is looking away from the front of the vehicle for an extended period, it will beep and show the message “Keep eyes on road” on the dashboard. The system watches for heads nodding or someone talking on the phone or texting, or even looking into the back seat, said Subaru spokesman Ron Kiino.

On the newly redesigned 2020 Outback SUV, the system will be standard on the three priciest versions, the Touring, Touring XT and the Limited XT, and it will be an option on the Limited, the lowest cost version with leather seats. No prices for those models have been announced, and it won’t be available on cheaper versions.

The Subaru system made its debut as standard equipment on the luxury version of its Forester SUV for the 2019 model year. To get it, you have to buy the priciest version, the Touring, which starts at $35,270, more than $10,000 above the lowest-priced model.

Hyundai’s system is standard on the Venue, an entry-level SUV that will start under $19,000. It doesn’t watch the driver’s face. Instead, it uses the same front-facing camera as the standard automatic emergency braking and lane assist. If you swerve or veer, the Venue’s software will sound a bell and the dash display will politely show a coffee cup and the words “Take a Break.”

Hyundai’s market research found that people want the feature, said Mike Evanoff, senior manager of product planning. “It’s just another layer that’s a ‘got your back’ kind of thing,” he said.

The warning system is already on Hyundai’s Veloster sports car and will make its way to the entire lineup as vehicles are updated and outfitted with standard automatic emergency braking by September of 2022 in an industry agreement with the U.S. government, Evanoff said.

Subaru, which has made safety a cornerstone of its marketing efforts, says its buyers are safety conscious and will be interested in the feature, even if it costs more. And if the system is too annoying, customers can turn it off, Kiino said.

Other systems on luxury vehicles are more sophisticated. The one on Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous system makes sure the driver is paying attention and will even pull to the side of the road if they aren’t. Mercedes’ Attention Assist system tracks more than 70 variables including time of day, elapsed driving time and steering movement to determine if a driver is tired or not paying attention. When a certain threshold is reached, it issues audible and visible warnings.

Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Kelley Blue Book, said the devices are proliferating as vehicles make the transition from human drivers to full automation. Systems like Tesla’s Autopilot and Super Cruise, which control steering, braking and speed under certain conditions, are steps toward autonomous cars, but they can’t drive themselves because humans must be ready to take over, he said.

“If you’re going to have systems like that, you need these driver monitoring systems to make sure that humans aren’t abusing the technology,” Brauer said.

But not everyone will be interested in being monitored. Chris Cerino, 49, of Wadsworth, Ohio, near Cleveland, said he’s old enough to know that he has to pay attention while driving.

“That kind of stuff is not going to make a terrible difference for me now. I understand. I learned my lessons,” said Cerino, who is selling a 2009 Subaru Outback.

Cerino said there’s too much automation these days, but conceded he would probably want the feature if he still had young children. Then again, he might turn it off.

“There’s a time and place for a lot of things, but I don’t need to be told when to hit the brakes or when to swerve or everything else,” he said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Technology

Truck Parking Near Me opens 2 overnight, monthly locations in Chicago area

Published

on

A survey of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirms that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicago area. (The Trucker file photo)

CHICAGO — Truck Parking Near Me has opened overnight and monthly truck parking for commercial trucks in Gary, Indiana, and Bellwood, Illinois.

Truck Parking Near Me President Mike Sicuro said his company did a survey and determined that the Chicagoland/Gary area is in the top five areas of the country where overnight truck parking is at a crisis level.

“Our surveys of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirm that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicagoland area and we have chosen to expand here, where the need is the greatest” Sicuro said.  “In 2017, the Indiana Department of Transportation reported that almost 38,000 trucks traveled daily near our Interstate 94 location and the same year the Illinois DOT reported that 6,000 trucks used the I-290 daily near our Bellwood/Chicago parking location. This information was influential in our decision to build truck parking in the area to accommodate the overnight parking need.”

In the same report, the U.S. Department of Transportation analysis of the area estimated that the Illinois and Indiana portions of the Chicago Metropolitan Area (which includes Gary) shipped and received about 427 million tons of freight worth $723 billion via truck in 2017. The US DOT reports that the tonnage has increased slightly since 2017.

Sicuro said recent surveys by the American Transportation Research Institute reported that the average over-the-road driver spends over one hour a day searching for overnight parking. This translates into $5,000 a year in lost revenue for a single OTR driver.

Take $5,000 per driver per year, he said, with 48% of 1.9 million long haul truck driver losing one hour of driving time, this number translates into almost $5 billion per year, which is the 0.5% of the total transportation cost across the United States.

“Truck Parking Near Me has strategically found parking to meet the demands of the trucking industry and will be looking for other opportunities outside the Chicagoland area to expand,” Sicuro said.

The Gary parking facility is located at 1500 North Colfax Avenue. Approaching from State Road 912, take the 15th Street exit and go east on Western 15th Avenue to Colfax Street. Approaching from I-94, take the Burr Street exit, go north on Burr Street to West 15th Avenue, turn west onto Colfax Street and go to West 15th Avenue.  A driver needing to get to downtown Chicago for a pick up or delivery, the Colfax location is only 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. The parking lot is lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

The Chicago parking facility is near Chicago O’Hare at 220 North 25th Avenue, Bellwood, Illinois, and like the Gary location, requires a reservation. The Chicago location is also lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

Sicuro said Truck Parking Near Me is adding parking facilities throughout the Gary and Chicago area with a priority on locations where it is often most difficult for truckers and trucking companies to find overnight parking.

Drivers can reserve their daily space at www.truckparkingnearme.com or call Mike Sicuro directly at 708-426-4511 for monthly parking.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Technology

UPS makes minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple

Published

on

UPS' work with TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

ATLANTA — UPS Thursday said its venture capital arm UPS Ventures has made a minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple.

Together, both companies are testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network. This is an extension of the ongoing commercial relationship between UPS and TuSimple in which UPS has purchased transportation services from TuSimple, according to Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price.

The work with autonomous driving company TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network, Price said. L4 Autonomous means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention. Currently, however, laws regulating L4 Autonomous driving require a driver in the vehicle at all times to take over operation if needed.

Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time.

“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” Price said. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

Founded in 2015, TuSimple’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to market, to increase safety, decrease transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. TuSimple develops technology that will allow shipping companies to operate self-driving class 8 tractor-trailers – those that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.

UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies during its peak shipping season. TuSimple believes it could cut average purchased transportation costs by 30%.

“We are honored by UPS’s strategic investment and their vote of confidence in TuSimple, this proves their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation,” said TuSimple’s Founder, President & CTO, Xiaodi Hou. “TuSimple is confident that it can accelerate bringing the first self-driving truck to market to increase road safety.”

UPS’s tests with TuSimple are part of an advanced technology evaluation for vehicles in the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network. UPS is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service to ensure that UPS remains the shipper of choice.

Continue Reading

Technology

NexTraq launches solution to lock cell phones, tablets while driving

Published

on

Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. (Courtesy: NEXTRAQ)

ATLANTA — NexTraq, a Michelin Group company, is launching the new NexTraq MobileBlock ─  in partnership with SafeDrivePod ─ a solution that ensures drivers’ smartphone and tablet screens are locked during driving. This new tool is a great for managers to help enforce policies restricting unauthorized use of company-issued tablets and smartphones limiting distractions.

“NexTraq’s MobileBlock helps to stop smartphone-based distractions behind the wheel,” said Todd Hanna, vice president of sales for NexTraq. “In many states and municipalities, using smartphones and tablets while driving is against the law. It can be dangerous. MobileBlock is a solution that can keep the driver and crew safe while at work.”

Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. An app is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play to the tablets or smartphones used by drivers of the vehicle. The software shuts off all access to apps while driving.  Emergency call and navigations apps are still usable with the tool installed.

NexTraq, a Michelin group company, is a part of Michelin’s Global Services and Solutions business line. The group boasts over 2,000 employees, serving more than 70,000 customers, with over 850,000 vehicles utilizing telematics solutions, worldwide. From tracking and reporting to routing and scheduling, NexTraq is more than just a provider of vehicle and asset tracking solutions. The company is a valued GPS fleet and mobile workforce management partner for its customers.

 

 

Continue Reading

Trending