Editorial director Lou Smyrlis attended a Volvo event in Newport, Rhode Island earlier this month, where technology was the theme. Among the futuristic concepts broached by Volvo executives was the idea of a ‘smart’ trailer that can operate independently of the tractor.
“Why does the tractor have to pull everything?” asked Jeff Cotner, chief designer with Volvo Trucks in presenting a future vision where trailers can operate under their own power and, having no physical connection to the tractor, are free to join up with and follow the tractor in platoon formation with other similarly smart trailers and then break off and drive themselves to different destinations along the way, all done at road speed.
Frankly, it’s this kind of visionary thinking that makes the trucking industry pretty darn interesting to cover these days. Lou reports that the vision involves a driver in the lead vehicle, overseeing the constant coupling and uncoupling of smart trailers in a platoon formation. Fleets would have to purchase and maintain fewer trucks under such a scenario. Of course, road designs would need to be updated to accommodate this vision.
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