All That's Trucking

Looking Back at ‘17: Electrification, Autonomous Technologies in the Works

Blog commentary by Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

December 21, 2017

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When we go through the process of choosing our annual Top 20 products, we try to focus on those that are commercially available or reasonably expected to be available in the coming year. This year, we reported on a lot of neat up-and-coming products that may not be out till 2019 or later, as well as some concept products and technology under development.

As we look back at 2017, two areas really stand out here: electrification and the development of technologies that could lead to autonomous driving systems. Here are some highlights, in no particular order:


The electrification of trucking was big news this year. For instance, Daimler’s Fuso eCanter medium-duty is already in production, and newcomer Chanje Energy unveiled a large electric cargo van. Heavier-duty trucks are in the works:

Tesla Semi: In one of the most anticipated announcements of the year, Tesla chief Elon Musk unveiled his all-electric Semi to a mob of fans and journalists. Although it isn’t expected to be in production until 2019, it already has drawn pre-orders from the likes of UPS, Anheuser-Busch, and Walmart. Read more.

Cummins electric truck: Cummins stole a bit of Tesla’s thunder when it unveiled a concept all-electric day cab, a demonstration vehicle dubbed the Urban Hauler EV. The truck reportedly is intended for urban delivery, port drayage, terminal hauling, and similar applications. Read more.

Toyota Project Portal: Toyota’s Project Portal is a test of a “proof of concept” Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell truck in real-world use in Southern California. The goal is to determine the feasibility of fuel cell technology for heavy-duty trucks, specifically in drayage operations. Read more.

Meritor electrification: Meritor announced that it is developing a platform of electric drive axles and suspensions as well as supporting systems “to position Meritor as a leader in electric solutions for the commercial vehicle market.” Read more.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

There are a raft of companies testing various types of autonomous truck technologies, among them Uber, Embark, tuSimple, and Tesla. But the following three systems from established commercial vehicle suppliers are ones that could make life easier and safer for drivers today but also can be the building block of autonomous driving technology.

Eaton Dock Assist: Developers at Eaton’s Intelligent Vehicle Group think trucks could be auto-guided right to their pick-up and delivery points. Part of that is backing up to a loading dock, and they’ve got a demo tractor that can do it. Dock Assist uses GPS locating with sensors on the tractor and a transmitter on the dock that tell on-board controls where to drive the truck. Read more.

Wabco OnLaneAssist: Wabco’s OnLaneAssist is an advanced driver assistance system designed to prevent unintended lane departures and offer active steering. When it detects lane drifting, the system autonomously intervenes before the vehicle leaves the lane by applying correction torque to the steering wheel to return the vehicle to the center of a lane. Wabco expects it to be in the market by the end of the decade. Read more.

ZF Reax: Reax is an active steering system that monitors how the truck is being steered and augments power steering pump output based on actual driver needs. In low-speed situations, Reax lightens up steering resistance to help drivers quickly act and react when maneuvering, backing or docking. At highway speeds, the system tightens up steering resistance to give a driver better feel and precision control in holding a lane. Read more.

Related: Truck Tech Blog -- Looking Forward and Backward


  1. 1. Ray Dohm [ December 22, 2017 @ 05:17AM ]

    Why didn't you talk about Nickola's truck- to me it seems to the best of the ones available


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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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