Tag: trucking

By on July 31, 2018

Uber Otto

Uber is shutting down its self-driving trucks unit due to a lack of progress and the controversy surrounding its multi-million dollar acquisition of Otto in 2016. The firm was purchased with the intent of developing self-driving cargo haulers, potentially saving the trucking company a fortune by outsourcing driving jobs to robots. But it was slow to reach that goal and ran head-on with a serious distraction almost immediately.

Initially, things looked promising. Otto was famous for engineering a truck that hauled a trailer full of beer across 120 miles of Colorado highway without human intervention. But it found a different sort of fame after its founder, Anthony Levandowski, took over as head of Uber’s self-driving car research and Waymo faulted him with handing over trade secrets.

As a former engineer for Google’s autonomous vehicle project (which would later evolve into Waymo), Levandowski was privy to sensitive information he was later accused of selling as part of the Otto buyout.  (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2017

Tesla Semi, Image: Tesla

The United Parcel Service said Tuesday it will purchase 125 all-electric semi trucks from Tesla, surpassing PepsiCo’s order to make it the largest known order for the vehicle thus far. While the purchase isn’t tantamount to UPS making a complete shift to an electric fleet, the company has previously stated it wants to convert up to 1,500 delivery trucks in New York to battery electric units and has been researching non-traditional powertrains for some time.

With so many of its trips taking place between distribution hubs, a medium-range EV truck boasting a high capacity could be a good fit for UPS. At the very least, Tesla seems to think so — the delivery service provided the automaker with extensive data on how its trucks function on real-world routes in order to evaluate how the hulking BEVs might perform in its fleet. Of course, the cooperative experience also helps both companies promote themselves as leaders in the green revolution.  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2017

tesla semi

When you’re selling the self-professed “King of Beers,” you’re going to want to transport them in a style befitting of royalty. Either that, or you’re interested in keeping your shipping costs to a minimum and have the capital necessary to invest in new technologies like an electric semi.

Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and over a dozen other beer brands, has decided to purchase 40 of Tesla’s battery-electric trucks. The company said it made the move in hopes of reducing fuel costs and cutting vehicle emissions. We’d also gamble that the adult beverage purveyor is interested in the vehicle’s claimed autonomous driving capabilities. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

Waymo Autonomous Test Pacifica, Image: Waymo

Waymo has announced it has begun working on self-driving trucks, possibly to further annoy its chief industry rival, Uber Technologies. On Thursday, the Alphabet-owned development team said it was venturing into autonomous trucking, only two weeks after UberFreight’s official launch.

While the ride-hailing giant has been working on self-driving trucks since its acquisition of Otto last year, the timing of the two more recent announcements are suspiciously close.
(Read More…)

By on August 31, 2016

ammonium nitrate explosion (Oregon National Guard/Flickr)

The company behind the massive recall of potentially explosive airbags won’t face a federal investigation after one of its trucks crashed and exploded on a Texas highway.

A transport truck carrying ammonium nitrate propellant and airbag inflators detonated last week, killing the occupant of a nearby home and leaving the truck in pieces. After two U.S. senators demanded a probe, the National Transportation Safety Board now claims that Takata followed the rules. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2016

semi trailer (raymondclarkeimages/Flickr)

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to mandate speed-limiting devices on all tractor-trailers and buses in the country in a bid to save lives and fuel.

Announced yesterday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the proposal would limit vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more to 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. Other speed limits could be considered, but that’s up to the public to debate. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2016

Mercedes-Benz Actros

If you’re planning to drive between the Netherlands and Germany tomorrow, just know that self-aware trucks will be out there.

Convoys of automated transport trucks will be plying the highways between Stuttgart and Rotterdam as part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge, an initiative created by the Netherlands to develop and showcase connected vehicle technology.

(Read More…)

By on October 30, 2015

IMG_0096

In Part One we looked at Clessie Cummins’ development of the first practical and reliable diesel truck engines and his earliest attempts to race diesels in the Indy 500. Though he had succeeded in developing the technology, he still hadn’t achieved the ultimate proof of concept that market success brings. (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2015

(Note to readers: This was the piece on Clessie Cummins that should have appeared first. Unfortunately, Part 2 of the series ran first and will be rerun later this afternoon — Aaron.)

clessie-cumminsDiesel engines have been in the news lately, and not for good things. The admission by Volkswagen that it has been using a software device to cheat on government emissions testing of at least some of its diesels may taint compression ignition, oil-fired engines in the passenger car market. The trucking industry, however, will continue to use diesels. That’s mostly because of a guy named Clessie Lyle Cummins.

If you’re an automobile or truck enthusiast you likely know his last name, but just as likely know nothing about him.

His accomplishments date to building a working steam engine for his family’s Indiana farm as an 11 year old in 1899, casting the engine parts from molten iron poured into hand-carved molds. As a teenager, he started to take odd jobs including fixing machinery, which led to a job at the maker of Marmon automobiles — Nordyke and Marmon. He was also member of the pit crew of Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp that was the winner of the very first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, and offered suggestions that made the car faster. Cummin’s loved the Indy 500 and his engines would eventually run there, with some measure of success. (Read More…)

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