Historically, new technologies have been slow to come to, and be adopted by, the transportation industry. However, several innovative companies are challenging this norm. From software solutions to new vehicle concepts, awesome ideas are making the transportation industry more efficient, safer, and profitable.

At Spendrix, we’re big fans of these advancements in transportation technology. Especially when it comes to applying big data to solve the largest problems facing the trucking industry. As such, we’re putting together a list to celebrate companies doing cool things to advanced the transportation industry each quarter. Enjoy the list for Q1 2015:

4 Companies Looking to Buck the Transportation Technology Status Quo

Peloton Technologies – Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

Based out of California, Peloton Technologies is pioneering the use of vehicle to vehicle communication to tackle two of the trucking industry’s largest problems – fuel and safety. By using radar sensors, intelligent braking, video screens, and a wireless link, Peloton makes it possible for two trucks to connect in a “platoon,” or “closer together than would normally be safe“.

transportation technology peloton

Peloton Technologies – Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

The two trucks are able to get as close as 20 feet from each other while platooning in order to take advantage of fuel-saving aerodynamics. Peloton reports fuel savings of 10% for the second truck and 4.5% for the lead truck in a platoon. The trucks are able to get this close thanks to Peloton’s active safety system which wirelessly links the trucks. The wireless link controls the truck’s acceleration and braking, while radar detects potential dangers up ahead. The linked trucks react within a “fraction of a second” whereas a truck driver needs up to two seconds to react to changes in conditions. While the wireless link controls acceleration and braking, drivers still have complete control of the truck. Even while trucks aren’t platooning, Peloton is making trucking safer with the use of video screens in cabs to monitor blind spots.

Peloton is also currently developing a network operations center which can coordinate trucks “seeking a platooning partner…even trucks from different fleets.” The network operations center will also collect data on driver fatigue and vehicle maintenance.

Overall, Peloton provides an awesome example of challenging the status quo in the trucking industry with innovative transportation technology. Watch their video to learn even more.

KeepTruckin – Electronic Logbook App

Software applications are also shaking up the transportation technology industry by making once mundane, paper-heavy tasks quick and electronic. A new product in the trucking industry, KeepTruckin, is a mobile app logbook designed to let truck drivers “quickly and easily enter their hours on their smartphone.” In the past, truckers had to record their hours on paper logs, then either mail or fax them to dispatchers. As the DOT’s rules for Hours of Service became more complex, drivers and fleet managers needed a new way to manage their logs. However, the KeepTruckin app is more than a way to monitor driver hours. The app will automatically let drivers know if they are in danger of Hours of Service Violations, helping fleets improve their CSA scores. Also, the app allows for fleet tracking and load status monitoring for dispatchers to effectively stay on top of their fleet’s whereabouts.

These electronic tools are making tasks that used to require paper data entry quick and efficient while also providing companies greater visibility. Check out KeepTruckin’s video to learn more about the app allowing truckers to maintain their logbook easier than ever before.

Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience – New Concept Trucking

transportation technology walmart-advanced-vehicle-experience-waveBack in 2005 Walmart vowed to double their fleet efficiency by the end of 2015. A hefty task for a fleet of 6,500 trucks, 55,000 trailers, and 7,000 drivers. But, they’ve done a great job, improving efficiency by 84.2% in that timeframe. However, Walmart has one idea that will not only help them reach their efficiency goals, but also transform the trucking industry forever. Collaborating with Peterbilt, Capstone Turbine, and Great Dane Trailer, Walmart has created a new concept truck – the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience.

Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon said the W.A.V.E. “is a means to shake up the way things are done in the trucking industry” as it combines many revolutionary ideas in tractor and trailer design. The advanced concept tractor has a streamlined, aerodynamic body, thanks to the driver’s seat placed in the center of the cab. Furthermore, the tractor has a microturbine-powered series hybrid electric drivetrain, “programmed to find the most efficient balance between its turbine and electric drivetrains.” The trailer is equally as advanced, made almost entirely of carbon fiber, and weighing 4ooo pounds less than a normal trailer. The sidewalls and roof are single, 53′ long pieces, held together with advanced adhesives, eliminating the need for rivets. Finally, the trailer has a convex nose which maintains cargo capacity and improves aerodynamics.

While the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience is still a prototype, Walmart is not only attempting to improve its own fleet efficiency, but also advance the future of the entire trucking industry with this application transportation technology. Check outWalmart’s video on the W.A.V.E. to learn even more.

Staxxon –  Shipping Containers

Staxxon transportation technology

Staxxon collapsable shipping containers.

Staxxon brings a fresh perspective to an old problem in the logistics industry. For decades, empty cargo containers have led to inefficiencies at ports. Staxxon hopes to bring a sustainable alternative to normal, rigid cargo containers by producing vertically folding, retrofitted containers. Staxxon’s goal is to “reduce the number of container ship movements as well as intra-state truck movements at ports related to empty containers.” These foldable containers will reduce the “cost and inefficiencies involved in moving empty intermodal containers.”

Staxxon folds containers vertically by collapsing the doors of the container and pushing the outer walls of the container in towards each other. With this method, five empty, collapsed containers can fit into the same space as one normal, non-folding container. Retrofitting old containers to be collapsable rather than designing and building completely new containers is another hallmark of Staxxon’s sustainable business model.

With an idea as simple as folding containers, Staxxon shows that you don’t have to build intricate software or design new trucks to have a huge impact on the logistics industry. Obviously Staxxon is doing something right as they were just named New Jersey’s #1 Most Promising Tech Startup. See more with their video here.

Clearly, many companies are determined to bring fresh ideas to the transportation industry’s challenges. As these pioneering companies succeed, even more companies will follow, using transportation technology to advance the transportation industry.

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