A multi-year research partnership sponsored by the National Transportation Research Center, Inc., with Volvo Trucks North America, Volvo Technology North America and the University of Tennessee as partners, reveals an effective model for implementing wireless roadside inspections (WRI) to improve transport efficiency and increase highway safety and security.
The Trusted Truck® initiative began in 2004, evaluating technology and processes to allow trucks deemed safe and “trusted” to bypass inspection stations, freeing inspectors to focus on trucks whose condition has not been validated. The study concluded with a final demonstration of Trusted Truck® on August 13 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Congressman James L. Oberstar of Minnesota, Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, joined Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., Ranking Member of the Highway and Transit Subcommittee, representing the second Congressional District of Tennessee, as well as officials from USDOT, FMCSA, NHTSA, CVSA, ATA, ATRI and other transportation sector organizations to see first-hand why Trusted Truck® is the most promising avenue for wireless roadside inspections.
“Trusted Truck® wireless roadside inspections would provide greater efficiencies to both the public and private sector,” said Jan Hellaker, vice president, business development and government programs for Volvo Technology North America. “Carriers that have a strong commitment to maintenance and safety can expect to see immediate savings in time and fuel costs. At the same time, the highway inspection stations can have a greater impact by focusing on trucks whose condition is unknown.”
Under the latest version of the system evaluated in the effort, when a vehicle is registered as a Trusted Truck®, its credentials are sent wirelessly to roadside inspectors, confirming that the driver, tractor, trailer and cargo meet all appropriate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements for safe cargo transportation.
When monitoring systems show a healthy vehicle and up-to-date credentials, the driver is signaled to proceed past the inspection station without stopping, saving both time and fuel. The system also serves as an early-warning system, sending a message to the fleet if a part or function is degrading and could become a safety concern.
On the other hand, if any problems are flagged, the truck is instructed to proceed to the upcoming inspection station and enters the inspection queue as usual.
While the benefits of wireless inspection can be significant, the Trusted Trucks® research team understood that they needed to address real-world issues that could affect adoption of the system.
“First, we developed the Trusted Truck® technology to be used with any fleet management system,” said Tom Richter, Volvo Technology’s principal investigator for Trusted Truck®. “By developing the system to work with technology that is already available and already in-use by many fleets across the U.S., we’ve largely overcome the cost and compatibility barrier.”
Volvo Link, for example, is an integrated onboard communications system that is standard equipment on all Volvo trucks sold in North America. With Volvo Link, drivers and fleet managers are able to communicate, and the operational condition of the truck can be remotely monitored and assessed. Volvo Link or other fleet management systems could tie in to the Trusted Truck® system with a software addition.
Secondly, Trusted Truck® uses existing wireless technology, enabling it to be put into service quickly. Just as importantly, the system can work with other Intelligent Transportation Systems initiatives that are planned or in development.
“The Trusted Truck® system can be used with existing on-board technologies, but would also operate effectively using other “smart” communication technologies being developed under the U.S. DOT–led IntelliDriveSM program,” Hellaker noted. “In fact, Volvo Technology is leading a program in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation to develop a Commercial Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (CVII) program. Wireless inspections are certainly one application for CVII.”
An additional factor is the commitment to confidentiality. All vehicle data is encrypted and sent to a non-government, third-party Trusted Truck® Management Center (TTMC), which gives the driver the go/no-go signal.
“The goal is to encourage fleets to leverage their commitment to good maintenance into significant savings in efficiency and fuel costs – not to create an additional reporting mechanism,” explained Hellaker.
As this phase of the Trusted Trucks® initiative ends, Volvo and its partners hope to see a public-private partnership come together for a large-scale pilot project involving one or more large fleets operating on a high-volume interstate.
From the perspective of the Volvo Group, the work on the Trusted Truck® project is one of numerous investments in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) – innovations that are improving highway safety, reducing emissions and fuel consumption, and increasing overall commercial vehicle efficiency and productivity. Some of the ITS technologies in production or development by Volvo include: active safety and driver alert technologies to help avoid accidents; transport information systems to provide real time data about the location and performance of all vehicles in a fleet to improve communication and security; and sustainable logistics systems to enhance transport productivity for increased fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Congressman James L. Oberstar of Minnesota (bottom center), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, was among the participants in a recent demonstration of Trusted Truck® technology developed under a partnership including Volvo Trucks North America and Volvo Technology North America.
Volvo Trucks North America and Volvo Technology North America are part of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses and construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications, aerospace components and services, and one of the world's leading producers of heavy-diesel engines (9-16 liter). The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. The Volvo Group, which employs about 96,000 people, has production facilities in 19 countries and sells their products in more than 180 markets. Volvo Group sales for 2009 amounted to approximately $29 billion. The Volvo Group is a publicly-held company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Shares are listed on Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange and are traded OTC in the U.S.
August 16, 2010