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Motor Matters

Industry info from around the globe. News, views and innovation collected from near and far…

Driver shortages: how technology is helping truck learner drivers

Learning to drive a truck can be fraught with challenges. Alongside the pressure of busy roads is the precision and skill it takes to maneuver a large and heavy vehicle – often in challenging circumstances, such as down narrow streets or during difficult weather conditions.

In the US, obtaining a truck license can take on average between six to eight weeks. To be eligible for a truck license, candidates need to be 21 years or older (at least 18 years of age to drive intrastate), submit their state’s CDL Application and fee with proof of identification and undertake a variety of tests.

The increased use of internet deliveries is one factor contributing to a rise in the number of vans and trucks using roads. According to Truck Info, there are 15.5 million trucks operating on US roads. However, the dwindling number of experienced drivers (around 80,000 short) in the US is causing major concern across the country. Without a sufficient level of qualified drivers, supplies could be severely affected and the prices of many goods could climb steeply.

Tackling this shortage is essential to maintaining supply chains, meeting customer demands and sustaining economic momentum.

While training new drivers can be time consuming, having a pool of fully qualified drivers is crucial to helping solve the issue. As experienced drivers retire or move to alternative careers, new drivers are required to take their place. So how should companies be encouraging individuals to gain their trucking qualifications?

Corey Heniser, a road safety expert at Brigade Electronics INC, said:

“Trying to attract new talent is a difficult process. Offering higher wages and more appealing packages are short term measures that have already been implemented by many companies. However, safety and the right level of driver support are also crucial factors in not only appealing to candidates, but ensuring they want to continue with a long-term career in the industry.”

Fitting safety devices and vehicle CCTV to trucks is helping to meet many of the challenges faced by those new to driving trucks.

As the number of safety initiatives for large vehicles increases around the world, technology is proving to be an invaluable resource in aiding drivers, particularly in relation to visibility and eliminating complex blind spots.

Corey continues:

“Whether fitted as part of road regulations or to enhance fleet safety, it is essential that learner drivers are taught how to use these systems as more and more fleets adopt this technology.”

“Road safety research has shown that in the time it takes to scan four mirrors, assess and then react to hazards, a vehicle could travel as far as 33 feet. Cameras, such as Brigade’s Backeye®360, which offer 360-degree visibility via a single in-cab monitor, allow the driver to see everything in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle, including pedestrians and cyclists, that might be in a blind spot position.”

The size of modern commercial vehicles means they are potentially highly dangerous machines, often driving on narrow streets packed with parked cars where there is limited room to maneuver. The risk of accidents is even greater at night or in wintry weather conditions when cameras may struggle to provide a clear picture.

Ultrasonic obstacle detection systems alert the driver to the presence of obstacles close to the vehicle, whether moving or stationary. An audible and/or visual in-cab warning is triggered, while external speaking alarms can be added to warn cyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity.

Brigade Electronics’ next generation of collision avoidance systems was developed using artificial intelligence technology and supported by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership initiative with Cambridge University. The result – Sidescan®Predict – was extensively trialed in 2020 with impressive results.

Through the use of AI, the Sidescan®Predict sensor constantly gathers object detection data such as the speed and distance of a nearby cyclist or pedestrian. This data feeds into an algorithm created by Brigade to accurately assesses the risk of a collision. When danger is detected, the driver is instantly alerted in time to take avoiding action.

Sidescan®Predict is always switched on, including at speeds below 18.641 mph. In addition, crucially, the collision protection is active with or without the indicators on. This is particularly important as it is recognized that some drivers become irritated by false alerts, even avoiding use of indicators so their system does not trigger alerts, potentially putting vulnerable road users at risk.

Reversing alarms are another key safety system, with modern iterations, such as Brigade Electronics’ award-winning White Sound range, offering instantly locatable alarms that cause less noise pollution because they are only heard in the danger zone (directly to the rear of a vehicle when backing).

Safety upgrades such as these can all be retro-fitted to a vehicle in a matter of hours. The improvement they can make to road safety is incalculable and the peace of mind they offer drivers invaluable.

Dash cams and vehicle CCTV offer an additional layer of security and support fleet operators with managing drivers travelling long distances for extensive periods.

Corey added:

“Commercial vehicle safety technology provides operators and drivers with the confidence that they are doing everything feasibly possible to keep themselves and other road users out of harm’s way.”

AJAC names Best New Automotive Innovations for 2022  

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has once again awarded a trio of technologies with its Automotive Innovation Awards for 2022. Nominations for the innovation awards were made by AJAC members and finalists were selected in each of the three categories. Each automaker selected as a finalist presented its technology virtually to a panel of 10 judges, comprised of some of the most knowledgeable and respected journalists in Canada who regularly cover automotive technologies.

“AJAC’s Innovation Awards represent some of the most important modern advancements in automotive technology,” said Stephanie Wallcraft, AJAC President. “Our jurors assess the nominated technologies through a comprehensive assessment and analysis process and submit their selections by secret ballot to ensure complete objectivity. Canadians can be assured that the vehicles featuring the winning technologies integrate some of the most significant innovations on today’s automotive market.”

The winners for the 2022 Automotive Innovation Awards are:

Best Safety Innovation – 2022 Genesis GV70 – Radar-based Rear Occupant Alert

Genesis captures the award in the safety category for its radar-based rear seat occupant alert, providing an alert to make sure that those most vulnerable to being forgotten in vehicle are protected

More accurate than weight or logic-based systems, the radar embedded in the headliner can detect very small movements such as a sleeping child or pet’s breathing. The driver is notified with a warning message and audible alert upon exiting the vehicle. If the warning is ignored, the vehicle’s horn and lights provide another alert, and smartphone notifications are delivered via Genesis Connected Services.

Speed of detection is key to reducing risk, which is why the Genesis radar-based rear occupant alert system is AJAC’s Best Safety Innovation for 2022.

 Best Green Innovation – 2022 Toyota Mirai Fuel-Cell Powertrain
In the current push towards alternative fuels, the 2022 Toyota Mirai was found to be a standout with its hydrogen powertrain. Converting hydrogen into electricity is a process that Toyota is counting on to move us into the next generation of vehicles, and for 2022 the Mirai’s powertrain has been refined. The car now carries a smaller, more powerful fuel cell with improved storage capacity, providing increased interior space for its 5 occupants.

A 647-kilometre range on a single tank of hydrogen and the ability to refuel in just minutes means that hydrogen is not tied down with the same burdens that traditional battery electric vehicles are, leaving them with a distinct advantage in this area.

Hydrogen fuel presents an alternate solution for reducing carbon emissions, which is why the 2022

Toyota Mirai’s fuel-cell electric powertrain is AJAC’s Best Green Innovation for 2022.

Best Technical Innovation – 2022 Genesis GV70 In-Vehicle Fingerprint Reader

Personalization has never been more built-in to our vehicles and Genesis ensures that your vehicle can recognize you with is new in-vehicle fingerprint reader. Like many of our modern cellphones, a simple scan of the driver’s finger will unlock certain features, while adjustments like seat position, climate and entertainment preferences will be taken care of for you, based on saved settings.

Valet mode is also enabled by the sensor, allowing the driver to lock his or her data away when necessary. AJAC jurors recognized this new technology for its usefulness and future potential, such as keyless vehicle start-up and in-car payments for fuel, charging stations or even the fast food drive through. For these reasons, the Genesis in-vehicle fingerprint reader is AJAC’s Best New Innovation for 2022.

Hyundai Motor Group takes top honors in 2022 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study

Hyundai Motor Group is the top-ranked automaker in J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) with its Hyundai, Kia and Genesis nameplates taking three of the industry’s top four brand rankings overall, including the top spot.

Kia is the top-ranked brand overall, including all mass-market and premium brands, and Genesis is the top-ranked premium brand and fourth overall. Hyundai Motor is ranked third overall, based on VDS’s PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) scoring criteria.

Hyundai Motor also took top honors in the midsize SUV and midsize sedan segments with Santa Fe and Sonata, respectively. Kia Sorento took the top honor in the upper midsize SUV segment for the second consecutive year.

“We at Hyundai Motor Group hold long-term ownership satisfaction as one of the key benchmarks for success,” said Seog-ju Cha, Head of Quality Division at Hyundai Motor Group. “The VDS results speak to Hyundai, Kia and Genesis’s dedication to delivering vehicles that not only excel in areas long-appreciated by owners, like design and driving experience, but also across innovative technologies that have become a crucial part of the overall ownership experience. We strive to maintain these high standards in all the vehicles we build.”

Based on the new criteria, Kia jumped two positions to take the top spot overall with a PP100 score of 145, beating the industry average by 47 points. It is the second consecutive year that Kia has claimed the top spot among mass-market brands, coming in third overall last year behind two premium brands. This is the first time that a non-premium brand has been awarded first overall in the ranking in the history of VDS.

Genesis improved four positions overall and three positions in the premium category with a top-ranked PP100 score of 155, beating the industry average by 37 points.

Hyundai Motor improved its rating by four positions overall and one position in the mass-market category to place third with a score of 148, beating the industry average by 44 points and securing its highest-ever ranking in the VDS study.

For the 2022 VDS, J.D. Power surveyed 29,487 customers in the U.S. across 32 automotive brands. Only verified purchasers and lessees of new 2019 model-year cars and light trucks registered for personal use were considered. After the study’s redesign, the industry’s problem levels are 59 percent higher in 2022 than in 2021, with the industry average increasing from 121 to 192.

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