Next Generation of Trucks - More Comfortable & Connected
Comfort & Connectivity - that's the name of the game for the next generation of trucks. From more power options for electronics to heated and cooled seats, it's all about creating a more inviting, yet productive environment. “Understanding how drivers use the interiors equipped with the latest technology and meeting the latest regulations is key to developing future driving and living environments,” says Jason Spence, Volvo Trucks’ long-haul product marketing manager.
More Choices for More Drivers
In addition to offering more options to drivers, truck designers from both Freightline and Volvo are also making it a point to include additional features in the truck interiors that make life easier for female operators. “We continually review our truck interiors in order to meet the needs of all drivers,” he says. Volvo’s ergonomic considerations today also consider female operators when designing things such as the steering wheel adjustment mechanism and the location of truck controls close to the steering wheel for easy reach, Spence says.
A Home Away From Home
Part of becoming a truck drivers an starting a truck driving job is making the lifestyle change. The truck becomes a home away from home. This means the more accomodations that can be added to the truck to make it feel like home, the more comfortable it is for drivers. Ultimately, it's not just about being more productive while on duty - but also being able to rest and relax better while off duty.
“We understand that being on the road can be challenging, so we are providing the luxuries of home in the cab, such as TV options, microwaves, refrigerators, improved mattress options and inverters to plug in hotel-like amenities,” says Mary Aufdemberg, director of product marketing for Freightliner Trucks.
Truck Driver Fatigue
In addition to coming up with ways to accomodate the driver while he/she is awake, next generation truck designers are also looking for ways to help drivers get better rest while asleep.
“Sleeper layout is something we’ve looked at a lot through the years – not only for its named use, but also for office use, entertainment use and lifestyle use, including exercise and other uses,” says Chris Ito, Navistar’s director of design. “At the end of the day, it needs to be quiet and comfortable with the ability to close out the world and get rest.”
In general, an overall theme seems to be better use of sleeper berth space as opposed to trying to add more space. One big feature that could be added is the integration of sleep apena equipment into the vehicle. Whatever the direction, designers are focused on keeping the sleeping area quiet and comfortable.
Need exercise ideas & ways to battle truck driver fatigue? Visit our friends at thehealthytrucker.net
Advanced In-Truck Displays - How Much Is Too Much?
A big movement that could be coming in the near future is the movement away from traditional guages and displays toward more modern, animated information systems. Aufdemberg says Freightliner engineers view the truck and powertrain as one integrated system and are designing ways to provide the information that drivers need on demand and in real time in an integrated manner, rather than relying on gauges that monitor everything individually.
“Real-time information feedback to the driver is becoming more commonplace, with systems such as collision mitigation, lane departure, hard braking and real-time traffic and weather conditions, to name a few,” she says. “These systems have varying levels of feedback ranging from simple visual and audible warnings to safely taking control of the vehicle.”
The key in all of this, of course, is displaying the most important information in a straightforward way that's more efficient, not more distracting to the driver. Part of that is doing testing to answer the question of how much is too much and at what point does the line need to be drawn. This is a question that has yet to be answered, but will certainly be tested.