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USDOT releases latest version of guidance for automated vehicles

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Thursday released new federal guidance for automated vehicles, advancing its commitment to supporting the safe integration of automation into the broad multimodal surface transportation system.

The guidance “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0” (AV 3.0) builds upon — but does not replace — voluntary guidance provided in “Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety.”

“The safe integration of automated vehicle technology into our transportation system will increase productivity, facilitate freight movement and create new types of jobs,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

AV 3.0 incorporates the results of extensive stakeholder engagement to provide updated voluntary guidance and policy considerations for a range of industry sectors, including manufacturers and technology developers, infrastructure owners and operators, commercial motor carriers, bus transit, and State and local governments, Chao said.

AV 3.0 supports the safe development of automated vehicle technologies by:

  • Providing new multi-modal safety guidance
  • Reducing policy uncertainty and clarifying roles
  • Outlining a process for working with USDOT as technology evolves

Specifically, the new AV 3.0 guidance provides several updates to the department’s initiatives relating to automated vehicles, by:

  • Stating that the department will interpret and, consistent with all applicable notice and comment requirements, adapt the definitions of “driver” or “operator” as appropriate to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may include an automated system.
  • Identifying and supporting the development of automation-related voluntary standards developed through organizations and associations, which can be an effective non-regulatory means to advance the integration of automation technologies.
  • Affirming that the Department is continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum.

AV 3.0 also announces and discusses several upcoming rulemakings and other actions being taken in the near future by the department’s operating administrations, including:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will request public comment on a proposal to streamline and modernize the procedures it will follow when processing and deciding exemption petitions.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will initiate an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address automated vehicles, particularly to identify regulatory gaps, including in the areas of inspection, repair, and maintenance for ADS.
  • The Federal Highway Administration announces plans to update the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), taking into consideration new connected and automated vehicle technologies.
  • The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is initiating research to develop and demonstrate a concept of operations, including system requirements, for the use of automated and connected vehicles to improve safety of highway-rail crossings.
  • The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and FMCSA are evaluating the regulatory and economic feasibility of using automated truck queueing as a technology solution to truck staging, access, and parking issues at ports.
  • The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) is researching the ability to enable the digital transmission of information to first responders before they arrive at an incident that involves hazardous materials.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has published a five-year research plan on automating bus transit.

The draft Guidance will be published in the Federal Register for public review and comment. More information on the Department’s work on automated vehicle systems can be found at www.transportation.gov/av.

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Truck Parking Near Me opens 2 overnight, monthly locations in Chicago area

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A survey of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirms that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicago area. (The Trucker file photo)

CHICAGO — Truck Parking Near Me has opened overnight and monthly truck parking for commercial trucks in Gary, Indiana, and Bellwood, Illinois.

Truck Parking Near Me President Mike Sicuro said his company did a survey and determined that the Chicagoland/Gary area is in the top five areas of the country where overnight truck parking is at a crisis level.

“Our surveys of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirm that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicagoland area and we have chosen to expand here, where the need is the greatest” Sicuro said.  “In 2017, the Indiana Department of Transportation reported that almost 38,000 trucks traveled daily near our Interstate 94 location and the same year the Illinois DOT reported that 6,000 trucks used the I-290 daily near our Bellwood/Chicago parking location. This information was influential in our decision to build truck parking in the area to accommodate the overnight parking need.”

In the same report, the U.S. Department of Transportation analysis of the area estimated that the Illinois and Indiana portions of the Chicago Metropolitan Area (which includes Gary) shipped and received about 427 million tons of freight worth $723 billion via truck in 2017. The US DOT reports that the tonnage has increased slightly since 2017.

Sicuro said recent surveys by the American Transportation Research Institute reported that the average over-the-road driver spends over one hour a day searching for overnight parking. This translates into $5,000 a year in lost revenue for a single OTR driver.

Take $5,000 per driver per year, he said, with 48% of 1.9 million long haul truck driver losing one hour of driving time, this number translates into almost $5 billion per year, which is the 0.5% of the total transportation cost across the United States.

“Truck Parking Near Me has strategically found parking to meet the demands of the trucking industry and will be looking for other opportunities outside the Chicagoland area to expand,” Sicuro said.

The Gary parking facility is located at 1500 North Colfax Avenue. Approaching from State Road 912, take the 15th Street exit and go east on Western 15th Avenue to Colfax Street. Approaching from I-94, take the Burr Street exit, go north on Burr Street to West 15th Avenue, turn west onto Colfax Street and go to West 15th Avenue.  A driver needing to get to downtown Chicago for a pick up or delivery, the Colfax location is only 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. The parking lot is lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

The Chicago parking facility is near Chicago O’Hare at 220 North 25th Avenue, Bellwood, Illinois, and like the Gary location, requires a reservation. The Chicago location is also lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

Sicuro said Truck Parking Near Me is adding parking facilities throughout the Gary and Chicago area with a priority on locations where it is often most difficult for truckers and trucking companies to find overnight parking.

Drivers can reserve their daily space at www.truckparkingnearme.com or call Mike Sicuro directly at 708-426-4511 for monthly parking.

 

 

 

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UPS makes minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple

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UPS' work with TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

ATLANTA — UPS Thursday said its venture capital arm UPS Ventures has made a minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple.

Together, both companies are testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network. This is an extension of the ongoing commercial relationship between UPS and TuSimple in which UPS has purchased transportation services from TuSimple, according to Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price.

The work with autonomous driving company TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network, Price said. L4 Autonomous means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention. Currently, however, laws regulating L4 Autonomous driving require a driver in the vehicle at all times to take over operation if needed.

Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time.

“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” Price said. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

Founded in 2015, TuSimple’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to market, to increase safety, decrease transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. TuSimple develops technology that will allow shipping companies to operate self-driving class 8 tractor-trailers – those that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.

UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies during its peak shipping season. TuSimple believes it could cut average purchased transportation costs by 30%.

“We are honored by UPS’s strategic investment and their vote of confidence in TuSimple, this proves their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation,” said TuSimple’s Founder, President & CTO, Xiaodi Hou. “TuSimple is confident that it can accelerate bringing the first self-driving truck to market to increase road safety.”

UPS’s tests with TuSimple are part of an advanced technology evaluation for vehicles in the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network. UPS is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service to ensure that UPS remains the shipper of choice.

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NexTraq launches solution to lock cell phones, tablets while driving

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Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. (Courtesy: NEXTRAQ)

ATLANTA — NexTraq, a Michelin Group company, is launching the new NexTraq MobileBlock ─  in partnership with SafeDrivePod ─ a solution that ensures drivers’ smartphone and tablet screens are locked during driving. This new tool is a great for managers to help enforce policies restricting unauthorized use of company-issued tablets and smartphones limiting distractions.

“NexTraq’s MobileBlock helps to stop smartphone-based distractions behind the wheel,” said Todd Hanna, vice president of sales for NexTraq. “In many states and municipalities, using smartphones and tablets while driving is against the law. It can be dangerous. MobileBlock is a solution that can keep the driver and crew safe while at work.”

Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. An app is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play to the tablets or smartphones used by drivers of the vehicle. The software shuts off all access to apps while driving.  Emergency call and navigations apps are still usable with the tool installed.

NexTraq, a Michelin group company, is a part of Michelin’s Global Services and Solutions business line. The group boasts over 2,000 employees, serving more than 70,000 customers, with over 850,000 vehicles utilizing telematics solutions, worldwide. From tracking and reporting to routing and scheduling, NexTraq is more than just a provider of vehicle and asset tracking solutions. The company is a valued GPS fleet and mobile workforce management partner for its customers.

 

 

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