May 16, 2024

By James Carter, Principal Consultant, Vision Mobility

“The trucks that some companies try to give us are a dumpster fire – even the new ones!” - My truck driver friend
“There’s a serious shortage of commercial vehicle drivers today, and we need to do EVERYTHING we can to make the job more attractive and their experience better and safer.” - Christoph Domke, Head of Business Development, Cerence Inc.
Over the last 2 or 3 years I’ve been spending much more time working in the commercial vehicle world, and one thing has consistently struck me: the vehicles are NOT very nice to drive.

Look, I’m not expecting a Tesla or Lexus and I realize trucks have a job to do, but honestly, my sister’s recalcitrant pony had better steering, ride and performance than some of these vehicles.

And, things don’t get better inside. Acres of nasty dash plastic from the 1980s and few driver assist or convenience features.

So, it’s no wonder there’s a driver shortage. In fact, the US was short over 80,000 drivers in 2021, growing to 160,000 by 2030, with autonomous trucks still a few years away.

This begs the question: How do truck OEMs and fleet operators improve the driver experience?

Efforts are needed throughout the vehicle, however, after a conversation with Christoph at Cerence, we identified four AI-driven technologies that can significantly help:
1. Location Pinpointing and Route Optimization
Finding the exact delivery point can be frustrating. Cerence and what3words' integrated navigation can locate a 3m x 3m location, with truck specific route optimization.  This ensures commercial vehicles find the fastest routes and accurate delivery locations efficiently.
2. Voice Activation
Sometimes commercial vehicles have a haphazard layout of switches and controls. Accessing critical vehicle information safely with AI powered voice recognition keeps eyes on the road longer.

3. Emergency Vehicle Detection
Big commercial vehicles are cumbersome to manage and see out of. Therefore, quickly avoiding emergency vehicles can be a problem. An early warning helps drivers to safely move out the way in a timely fashion.

4. Driver and Cabin Monitoring
A driver’s safety and well-being is very important to ensure a comfortable and smooth journey. Detecting drowsiness and distraction can warn drivers when they need to rest.

Cerence, a leader in AI for mobility, and Vision Mobility client, works with leading and emerging medium and heavy-duty OEMs to transform the in-vehicle experience through improving navigation, driver and vehicle monitoring, voice control, and emergency vehicle detection. More here: 
Which new vehicle technologies do you think will improve driver retention? Head over to LinkedIn to share your thoughts. 

This post originally appeared on James Carter's LinkedIn page here.

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