Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, May 11, 2021:
TuSimple books thousands of orders for self-driving trucks
Self-driving technology company TuSimple said Monday it has received 6,775 reservations for a new line of purpose-built SAE Level 4 International LT Series autonomous trucks.
Level 4 automated driving means the vehicle does not require human intervention in the event of a problem or system failure.
The self-driving trucks, developed in partnership with Navistar, will be equipped with TuSimple's autonomous driving system and manufactured by Navistar beginning in 2024. Among the first customers to place reservations are Penske Truck Leasing, Schneider, and U.S. Xpress, among other large freight transportation companies in North America.
TuSimple's Autonomous Freight Network currently operates a fleet of 50 Level 4 autonomous trucks across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The company plans to expand the AFN network coast-to-coast by 2023 and today transports freight for revenue on highways and surface streets for customers such as UPS, U.S. Xpress and the Arizona Association of Food Banks, among others.
Navistar, Schneider and U.S. Xpress are shareholders in TuSimple. Penske Truck Leasing and U.S. Xpress are among the partners in the Autonomous Freight Network.
Bendix gets exemption to mount cameras lower on windshields
Bendix has received a five-year regulatory exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a windshield-mounted video camera, the company announced this week. The exemption is in effect until April 6, 2026.
The exemption allows the housing for the Bendix safety cameras – including a driver-facing camera as part of the SafetyDirect system – to be mounted slightly lower on the interior of the windshield than was previously permitted.
FMCSA prohibits obstructions to a driver’s field of view and devices like antennas or transponders that are mounted at the top of a windshield must be located outside the area swept by the windshield wipers. However, FMCSA noted, “that lower placement of the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technology would not have an adverse impact on safety and that adherence to the terms and conditions of the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety provided by the regulation.”
Fred Andersky, Bendix director of demos, sales, and service training, said that as more fleets, drivers, and truck builders incorporate these safety technologies into their vehicles, "it’s important we’re able to continue advancing the systems without fleets and drivers having to worry about violating windshield clearance rules.” he said. “This decision builds on similar previous exemptions that were made permanent, and it’s limited to the Bendix camera housing – which is about 5.6 inches tall and 5.4 inches wide. It allows the bottom of the component to reach eight inches below the top of the area swept by the windshield wipers – about an inch lower than the current regulation permits.”
Since the Wingman Fusion active safety system and AutoVue LDW (lane departure warning) are effective in most weather conditions where lane markings are visible, the systems’ forward-facing cameras need to be mounted within the swept area of the windshield wipers.
Motor carriers using approved safety technologies such as lane departure warning systems and collision mitigation systems can mount devices within the newly revised area, although the devices must still remain outside the driver’s sight lines to the road, highway signs, and signals.
“This particular FMCSA decision is a narrow one, specific to Bendix,” Andersky noted. “And it expects that fleets and drivers will apply a level of common sense. The wrong devices, or too many of them in the sweep area, can still be in violation of the windshield obstruction rules. It’s important for fleets that are not using Bendix devices to check with their system supplier concerning the appropriate windshield clearance exemption for the device being used. If not, the fleet could be subject to inspection violations.”
New England Kenworth opens new parts, service facility
New England Kenworth recently opened a new 19,000 square-foot parts and service facility in Londonderry, New Hampshire, to deliver expanded support to fleets and truck operators in the Northeast.
Situated on 6.8 acres, New England Kenworth – Londonderry features a 16-bay service department, 1,700 square-foot parts department, and a 1,000 square-foot visual parts display area.
New England Kenworth – Londonderry is a substantial improvement from the dealer’s former parts-only location in Nashua and is conveniently located near I-93, which runs south to Boston and north to the Canadian border. The new facility significantly expands parts and service access for fleet customers and truck operators in the southeastern portion of New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts.
The address is 8 Horizon Drive in Londonderry. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 603-421-6599.
New England Kenworth operates Kenworth dealerships in Bangor and Portland, Maine; Concord and Londonderry, New Hampshire; and Burlington and Rutland, Vermont.