Business & Investment

Road trip with Autonomous Truck Company Plus

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Nashville, Tennessee — Autonomous Truck Technology Developer Plus uses the roads around Nashville to showcase the system in a real-world environment and provide demonstration vehicles at the American Trucking Associations Executive Conference and Exhibition Did.

“This PlusDrive system is a driving aid,” said Ruben Cardenas, senior vehicle operator at Plus, on one of the vehicles along the roads and highways around the Music City Center, the host venue for MCE. He talked about the technology when riding for hours. “It’s just to help us. Still, we need the involvement of the driver. So I’m still holding the steering wheel. We’re driving together. It’s a married effort.”

The trip began in downtown Nashville. It took about two minutes to start the truck and it took the system to complete the self-test. From there, continue running software and hardware checks to make sure there are no issues during operation. The system can return control to a human operator if desired.

“If something goes wrong or you don’t like what it looks like, it takes four seconds and gives you clear and concise instructions to take over,” Cardenas said.

Once on the freeway, Cardenas showed the process of the PlusDrive system to determine when autonomous operations could be safely performed.

“This system is designed to work in the lane,” says Cardenas. “When you leave here and establish a lane, you’re in a gray unprepared state, which indicates that your system is safe, your hardware is in good condition, and your software is in good condition. We just don’t belong to the realm of operational design. “

When the system detected that the truck had safely joined the freeway, Cardenas switched to autonomous driving. To make that switch, he double-tapped the button on the handle. Press the pedal again and press the button again to return to manual operation.

The truck passed through downtown Nashville. (Transportation topic John Sommers II)

“There are many tuning and technology levels that apply only to this product,” says Cardenas. “We spent a lot of time coordinating not only to complete the task, but to complete the task like a human being.”

While driving on Interstate 24, the truck collided with some traffic and automatically slowed and speeded up. The lane change will be completed automatically, but it will occur if the driver hits the turn signal twice and the sensor determines that the path is clear.

“Proceeding here, you will reach 55 mph. [speed limit].. A few miles away, the speed changes to 65, “said Cardenas. “Recognize it and speed it up.”

Cardenas also refers to the small screen on the side of the steering wheel that acts as the main human-machine interface. The throttle value, current speed, target speed, and fuel algorithm are displayed. It also has a display that shows what the sensor is aware of, such as surrounding vehicles that appear as white silhouettes against a black background.

“All of this works together to control what needs to be done,” Cardenas pointed out what’s on the screen. “Here we are detecting a motorcycle with a human machine interface. So we have him. That is our lead now and our goal, but we are just us. We’re not just focusing on our goals. We’re scanning everything. “

The human-machine interface displays adjacent lanes on the left and right and summarizes what they detect into information that the driver can easily understand at a glance.

“We will do what we need to do to get through this traffic,” says Cardenas. “It will keep a great distance in front of us. It will allow mergers to come in, people to get off and keep traffic flowing. It will also help improve fuel efficiency.”

Cardenas also pointed out how the system requires user involvement. For example, verify that the driver is placing his hand on the wheel by detecting and verifying that the torque applied to the wheel is at least small. According to Cardenas, making sure that the driver is present even when the truck is driving can help enhance safety.

“It has torque-based steering and detects zerotorque or negative torque,” ​​says Cardenas. “I’m making some inputs at a very small and sensitive level, so it’s not enough to turn the truck, but it knows my hands are there.”

The system will sound an alert if it does not detect the driver after 15 seconds, and will issue a stronger alarm and verbal warning after 30 seconds. If the driver is still not detected, the truck will slowly begin to brake. According to Cardenas, drivers can clear the alarm by applying torque to the steering wheel or by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

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Road trip with Autonomous Truck Company Plus Road trip with Autonomous Truck Company Plus

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