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Volvo, partners explore human behavior prediction for trucking industry

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A demonstration of Perceptive Automata's artificial intelligence tracking and signaling in real-time the likely intention to cross and awareness of two pedestrians near a Volvo VNR 300 heavy-duty truck model. The AI is able to track, in parallel and with a 360-degree field of view, a practically unlimited number of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles to enhance professional drivers' situational awareness in road environments. (Courtesy: VOLVO TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Recently, Volvo Trucks North America, along with automated vehicle software provider Perceptive Automata and customer Dependable Highway Express (DHE), showcased a collaborative innovation project designed to strengthen safety capabilities for the trucking industry through automation.

This project leverages human intuition artificial intelligence that reads the intention and awareness of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists, to enhance the situational awareness of truck drivers, according to Aravind Kailas, research and innovation manager at Volvo Group North America.

Volvo Trucks recognized the critical need for improved safety for all road users, specifically to augment situational awareness and better anticipate human behavior while on the road, Kailas said, adding that the company developed a proof-of-concept together with Perceptive Automata and DHE which was successfully demonstrated at DHE headquarters in Ontario, California recently.

At the event, attendees experienced Perceptive Automata’s artificial intelligence (AI) software on a Volvo VNR 300 regional-haul model. Attendees also got to observe the AI in action during live drives.

“Safety is a core value at Volvo Trucks, and we continue to explore new and innovative ways to further enhance transportation safety, as well as improve driver support and comfort,” Kailas said. “We are very proud of the collaboration with Perceptive Automata and DHE, who share our vision for increasing safety and have worked diligently over the last six to eight months to bring this project to life.”

Perceptive Automata is focusing on solving one of the most challenging problems for automated vehicles — understanding the state of mind of humans in our road environment, according to Sid Misra, chief executive officer of Perceptive Automata.

Its AI software ingests data from on-vehicle sensors and, like humans, assesses in real-time the likely intention and awareness of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers by reading visual cues such as eye contact, posture, physical orientation, and head movements.

Increased safety is achieved through continuous 360-degree monitoring of human road users near the truck and, when warranted, signaling to the truck driver and on-board automated systems increased risk based on changes in human intention.

This enables earlier preventive actions by the truck driver, supported by the truck’s automated systems, to reduce the likelihood of accidents and to help modulate the amount and severity of braking and acceleration, Misra said.

“Advanced automation in trucking is an important application of our human behavior prediction technology, and we are excited to team with Volvo Trucks and DHE to demonstrate its impact on trucking safety,” he said. “Volvo Trucks’ culture of safety and DHE’s service excellence align with our vision for the future of automated trucking and advanced driver support, and this project showcased how automation technology can enhance the situational awareness of truck drivers to reduce cognitive load and driver fatigue, and, ultimately, safe lives.”

DHE was integral in this project and provided real-world data from its fleet operations to enable the customization of the AI software for this specific application and to successfully showcase it at DHE’s Ontario, California site.

“DHE’s quest for excellence in all areas, especially safety, is obvious as we specify all our Volvo truck models with every safety feature available from its factory,” said Joe Finney, chief operating officer at DHE. “We are excited to play a part in the research and development of this automation technology and the positive impact it can have in keeping everyone safer on the roads of the world.”

Kailas said automation and driver support enhancements that help predict and prevent potential incidents will be essential to improving road safety now and in the future.”

“While we recognize highly automated processes progress gradually and over time, we have gained valuable information from this collaboration in a short period of time,” he said.  8

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Can you say oversized load!

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That is big!

 

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Diesel prices all but stagnant nationwide, less than 2-cent shift anywhere

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The average price for a gallon of diesel nationwide fell by 0.7 cents for the week ending July 22, to currently stand at $3.044 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The lack of movement in diesel prices continues a pattern that has been going on for the past month. On June 24, diesel was at 3.042, with changes of less than 1.5 cents every week in between.

Though tiny, the movement in diesel prices was nearly unanimous this past week, down in all but one region of the country.  That one exception was the Rocky Mountain region, where diesel rose 0.3 cents, to $2.978. Year-to-date, diesel prices are lower in every region, with the Rocky Mountain region again being the standout, having the greatest difference, 39.1 cents from this time last year.

California made it a clean sweep for lower diesel prices year-to-date with a drop of 1.3 cents this past week, to $3.939, still by far the highest in the country, but 0.4 cents below this time last year.

Along the rest of the West Coast, diesel dropped 1.1 cents to $3.198, bringing the overall West Coast average to $3.611 per gallon.

The average along the East Coast is currently $3.072, with prices highest in the Central Atlantic, where diesel is going for $3.259 after a 1.3-cent drop. Diesel is $3.122 in New England following a decrease of 0.9 cents over the past week, while in the Lower Atlantic region diesel slipped by 0.4 cents to stand at $2.937 per gallon.

That’s still slightly better than the Midwest, where diesel is going for $2.948 per gallon after a drop of 0.8 cents. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast, the low-price leader in diesel, fell by the same 0.1 cent it gained the week before to stand at $2.804.

On Monday, increasing tensions between Iran and Western countries failed to produce a sharp reaction in the crude oil markets. Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 98 cents, or 1.57%, to settle at $63.45 a barrel. U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude rose 59 cents, or 1.06%, to settle at $56.22 a barrel.

Click here for a complete list of average prices by region for the past three weeks.

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DOL opinion letter: Time in sleeper berth does not count as compensable time

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The Department of Labor says the time a truck driver spends in the sleeper berth is not compensable time. Pictured in the Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft sleeper berth. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday said it had determined that time spent in the sleeper berth by professional truck drivers while otherwise relieved from duty does not count as compensable time.

The DOL issued the determination in a written opinion letter by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter.

The American Trucking Associations lauded the opinion.

“ATA welcomes Monday’s opinion letter from DOL Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton that concluded time spent by a commercial driver in the sleeper berth does not count as compensable hours under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unless the driver is actually performing work or on call,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This opinion, which is consistent with decades-old DOL regulations, the weight of judicial authority, and the long understanding of the trucking industry, clears up confusion created by two recent court decisions that called the compensability of sleeper berth time into question.

Significantly, this opinion letter provides new guidance, the DOL said.

Under prior guidance, the DOL said WHD interpreted the relevant regulations to mean that while sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished, only up to eight hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

“WHD has now concluded that this interpretation is unnecessarily burdensome for employers and instead adopts a straightforward reading of the plain language of the applicable regulation, under which the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable,” the opinion letter said. “There may be circumstances, however, where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes. For example, a driver who is required to remain on call or do paperwork in the sleeping berth may be unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable hours worked.”

The ATA commended Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella and Stanton for adopting a straightforward, plain-language reading of the law, rather than the burdensome alternative interpretation embraced by those outlier decisions.

“ATA also commends the department for making guidance like this available through opinion letters, which provide an opportunity for stakeholders to better understand their compliance obligations prospectively, rather than settling such matters only after the fact, through costly and wasteful litigation,” Spear said.

 

 

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