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Commercial Vehicle Industry Making Way for L4+

Min Reading Time
Tags: AutonomousDriving, Safety, SeeThinkAct
Dan Williams, February 19, 2020
Dan Williams is the Director of ADAS and Autonomy Commercial Vehicle Technology at ZF. In this role, he leads the department of ADAS, Autonomy and Integrated Vehicle Control Systems for the ZF Commercial Vehicle Technology.
“When will fully automated vehicles be available to move goods and people?” This often-asked question is a difficult one to answer. But one thing is clear from ZF’s perspective, the commercial vehicle market is taking the lead in integrating Level 4+ automated driving systems into tomorrow’s vehicles.

Collaboration is Key

One key factor is a more collaborative and clearer regulatory environment. In the US, several steps are being taken to help the industry integrate Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) technologies.

For example, over the past several years National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has researched forward collision avoidance and mitigation technology on heavy vehicles, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems. The agency will continue conducting research to evaluate real-world performance of these systems through track testing and field operational testing and will determine whether to issue a rule that makes the technology mandatory in the U.S.
Additionally, truck platooning – linking two or more trucks in a convoy using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems – faced implementation challenges due to rules that blocked trucks and fleets from traveling close together. However, recently many of these hurdles have been removed clearing the way for trucks to take advantage of this operational savings.
The commercial vehicle industry has a history of being collaborative in an effort to advance technology, improve efficiency and safety, and further strengthen the industry that serves as an economic backbone.

Automated Driving Helps Address Industry’s Challenges

Another factor impacting the adoption of ADAS technology for commercial vehicles is the possibility of reducing accidents and saving money.

Studies indicate that the average cost of a commercial vehicle accident is $53,000. In addition, 32 percent of accidents are unintentional lane departures. Through systems like ZF’s OnTraX, a vehicle can be corrected back into its lane when it starts to drift and the systems can alert the driver through vibration of the steering wheel to warn drivers when they start to move into a lane occupied by another vehicle or leave the roadway altogether.
Additionally, because commercial vehicles primarily operate on highways or in closed cargo depots where conditions can be controlled, there is great potential for self-driving trucks. This can help bridge the driver shortage gap, which is predicted to be as high as 100,000 drivers in the U.S. alone by 2022. The human resource savings, along with the opportunity to improve vehicle productivity, could deliver significant cost savings for the industry.
ZF, with its broad portfolio of solutions and experience across passenger cars, trucks and industrial applications, is well positioned to help advance automated driving. In the commercial vehicle industry, the company is currently developing the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) for a Level 4 system for an international commercial vehicle manufacturer scheduled to launch 2024/25.
We will continue to collaborate across our business, with partners, academia and the government to drive the adoption of ADAS solutions because the business case is strong and we are dependent on this industry.