Overdrive 40th Anniversary Tour

Volvo’s VN 770 technology truck, which will be used on Overdrive magazine’s 40th Anniversary Voice of the American Trucker cross-country tour this summer, takes onboard communications systems to a new level.

“We built computers into that truck in a way we’ve never done before,” says Curtis Jacobson, lead electrical engineer for Volvo Trucks. “We thought of the truck as a docking station.”

Computers handle basic engine management, complex lane tracking and collision avoidance technology and other systems.

A 15-inch color LCD computer monitor, recessed into the rear wall, swings over the rear table. “It takes up no table space when in use,” says Jacobson, noting that the keyboard is wireless and can be placed on the table only when necessary. The monitor has a built-in mini-camera for teleconferencing.

The driver can access the Internet through a wireless local access network, which could become common at truck stops. “In a recent demonstration, we had a computer in the truck and a computer outside the truck,” Jacobson says. “We accessed the one outside the truck with the one in the truck, and we could surf the Internet in the truck and teleconference.”

The VN 770 has hookups for truck stop entertainment services and prep kits for Qualcomm, Highway Master and American Mobile Satellite business applications.

Using Qualcomm, a driver’s employer can communicate with him or track the truck’s performance and maintenance needs.

Communication features also include advanced radio access and other entertainment options that utilize the computing hardware. “A VCR and a DVD player are built into the laptop computer,” says Kurt Hollinger, marketing manager for Volvo Trucks.

The VN 770 boasts a 140-watt, eight-channel Delphi stereo system, complete with amplifier, crossover, six-disc CD changer and a twelve-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer. The Delphi Satellite Radio system, which includes an infrared remote control, integrates standard AM/FM radio with the upscale satellite band, which allows the driver to listen to each station across the country, with no interference or loss of signal.

The VN 770 harnesses satellite communication by using an onboard global positioning system. “It can direct you to any location,” Hollinger says. “Just punch in your destination, and it will track your progress.” The GPS system comes with an in-dash 7-inch LCD monitor, wireless mouse and keyboard.

The truck also features the Bendix Night Vision system with Raytheon camera and a lane tracking system with a warning feature.

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