On September 21, Forth hosted a networking event in Portland, the first of our fall events. At this event, we wanted to highlight how advancing technologies are changing transportation and we explored a form of transportation that is often overlooked and doesn't receive a lot of media attention: freight. We invited Tanya Apphun-Crates, Product Strategy Manager at Daimler Trucks North America to lead a discussion on how the freight industry is evolving.
At present, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is committed to diesel fuel, though the company is interested in methods and technologies that will reduce diesel usage, such as platooning and autonomous mobility. Platooning, Tanya explained, is when several or more trucks follow each other closely (around 50 feet) to minimize the draft from the vehicle ahead of it; this pairing can help reduce fuel costs and usage. Tanya gave our audience an explanation of the difference between automated driving and autonomous driving and despite a recent news segment by KGW, DTNA is not ready to deploy any fully-autonomous trucks. DTNA does have a prototype autonomous semi-truck, which serves as a demonstration of what is possible and what features may become mainstream. There are a number of challenges to developing an autonomous semi-truck, such how to adjust for variable road conditions caused by weather or road maintenance. Lastly, Tanya noted, that while DTNA doesn't have immediate plans for investing in electric mobility, Fuso, one of Daimler's subsidiaries, has recently released an all-electric light duty truck - the eCanter.
Forth would like to acknowledge the Jaguar Land Rover Open Software Technology Center, for serving as our event host.
Tanya's presentation can be viewed here: