New advances in sensor technology are set to improve future trucking efficiency and safety, Transport Topics reports. Lidar is a sophisticated driver-assistance system already used in passenger vehicles to look ahead, alert drivers to impending collisons, and implement emergency braking. Applying this same technology to large trucks — specifically class 6-8 vehicles — is hoped to revolutionize trucking safety and ultimately minimize accidents. The many achievements of Lidar technology include looking almost 1000 feet ahead, measuring bridge and tunnel height from a distance of 800 feet, and detecting blind spots.
What is Lidar technology?
Lidar — short for “light detection and ranging” — is a high-powered sensing technology which captures 3D scans of the entire 360-degree environment surrounding the vehicle its installed in. Lidar also uses infrared lasers which work efficiently at night or in poor lighting. It’s designed to even see clearly through rain, fog, and snow. Lidar is therefore more effective than traditional camera-based safety systems which can become easily clouded in poor weather conditions.
How Lidar improves trucking safety
Lidar technology can help keep trucks safe and in good condition on the road in several ways. The 360 degree view gives medium- and large-duty trucks the full coverage they need — for almost 1000 feet ahead. It’s a simpler alternative to the several cameras large trucks need to achieve full range of view. Moreover, Lidar technology makes automatic braking and blind-spot detection possible. Rather than waiting for brake lights from the next car ahead, Lidar can show the driver when the car four, five, or six cars ahead slows down. Stopping distance is therefore improved and it’s possible for large trucks, such as, hefty class 8 vehicles, to start braking before the cars in front do. As a result, Lidar technology can help reduce one of the main reasons these trucks get into accidents on the road.
The issue of cost
With the numerous benefits provided by Lidar, it’s not initially clear why a larger number of trucking manufacturers haven’t already taken advantage of this game-changing technology. But, quite simply, high prices are mainly to blame. The good news is Lidar suppliers have begun to produce a higher volume of the devices in order to proactively bring costs down. As suppliers work to simultaneously reduce cost and improve product reliability, the potential widespread use of Lidar technology throughout the trucking industry in the future looks promising.