Connected Fleet Experts to Converge on Atlanta

The rise of connected technology for fleets is the theme of this year’s TU-Automotive Connected Fleets USA//The Future of Fleets conference November 16-17, at the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta.

There will be speakers from such trucking industry firms as Navistar, Hertz, Continental, Peloton, Donlen, Ricardo, and Cummins.

The conference will attract over 300 attendees with many having the authority to make purchasing decisions. At the 2014 Connected Fleets, more than 75 percent were presidents, managers or directors, while another 9 percent were at the C-level at their firms.

Categorized by firm, 21 percent of attendees last year were with transportation service providers, 17 percent fleet service/operators, 16 percent Tier 1 suppliers, 13 percent OEMs, and 10 percent were hardware manufacturers.

This year’s seminars will focus on topics that the industry is talking about as it moves to the connected world.

Data will be the focus of two important seminars, one on techniques for turning data into revenue, and the second on the promise of a single data standard for fleets.

Cybersecurity is rising to the fore for fleets as they collect all this data. In general, connectivity is proving to be a strong positive for fleets but the issue becomes ensuring how to protect yourself from hackers.

Another major issue every year is staff, especially drivers. Driver-facing cameras has seen some pushback, so Leaseplan will address this conflict in a presentation with ideas on getting driver buy-in for the technology. There will also be a seminar on driver training that improves safety and lowers accidents.

And there will be some forward looking seminars that look at the next steps in fleet connectivity. One panel will consider whether the Uber model can be transferred to the trucking industry, while another will look at drones and their ability to monitor weather and road conditions, and track trucks.

To review the list of seminars and speakers click here.

More Truck Fleets, Insurers Videotaping Their Drivers

Burney Simpson

More trucking firms and their insurers are signing up for a videotaping system that monitors truck driver behavior and San Diego-based Lytx Inc. is reaping the benefits.

Lytx reported that it added 57,000 subscriptions-in-service (SIS) to its DriveCam and RAIR Compliance Services program in 2014, and ended the year with 200,000 subscriptions and nearly 1,300 government and commercial clients. Each SIS is a vehicle using a Lytx video system.

This year, Lytx reports more than a half-dozen trucking fleets and several insurance companies have signed up for its DriveCam program, including:

  • Seattle-based MTR Western with a fleet of 160 motor coaches;
  • J&R Schugel Trucking with 450 company drivers and 150 contractor-operators;
  • Barney Trucking with 250 dry-bulk hauling tractors;
  • Aggregate Industries with 1,300 vehicles;
  • Carolina Casualty and Canal Insurance Co. began offering DriveCam to their fleet clients.

The foundation of Lytx’s DriveCam program is a small video system with multiple cameras that is mounted in the vehicle cab above the rear view mirror. Cameras focus on the driver and toward the street, recording driver behavior and street activity, according to Lytx videos.

If there’s an accident or an event like hard braking or a sharp turn occurs, the taped video is sent via wireless network to the trucking company, the firm that contracted the driver, or Lytx.

The recording can be used to determine whether the driver caused, did not cause, or helped avoid an accident or unusual event.

Lytx can also use the recording to analyze the driver’s performance during day-to-day driving, and to create a scoring system for good and bad driver behavior. Each driver then has a score that rises or falls depending on a slew of factors, from accidents, to unnecessary gas use, to texting, or other behavior the fleet operator seeks to track.

LtyxDriver1A fleet that uses the DriveCam system can use the score and the videos for driver coaching. Lytx’s Risk-Predict program tracks behavior to find the driver in a fleet that is most likely to cause an accident.

The RAIR Compliance system serves U.S. Department of Transportation-regulated fleets. It monitor driver logs, vehicle inspection reports, driver qualifications, and drug testing.

Lytx says that truck fleets that use its combined services see payback on their investment in six months due to reduced collisions and lower fuel and maintenance costs. Privately-held Lytx doesn’t release its financial results though it claims that 2014 was its third consecutive year with orders of more than $100 million. In 2013, Volvo Group Venture Capital made an undisclosed investment in Lytx, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Truck Driver = Logistics Manager in Autonomous Future: Daimler

Burney Simpson

In the next decade the driver of an autonomous truck will be a system manager who monitors the efficient handling of the vehicle, according to a Daimler North America executive at a panel on driverless technology last week in Washington, D.C.

The panel was convened May 8 by the Brookings Institution and the U.S. Department of State to discuss “Bringing Driverless Cars from Research to International Markets.”

For the most part the panel covered big picture topics like legal liability and data privacy, and the experts called on governments to begin addressing these issues on a global basis.

Adding a touch of the immediate was Jessica Altschul, a Daimler manager of outreach and innovation policy. She noted that Daimler last week launched in Nevada two fully-autonomous 18-wheel Freightliner Inspiration trucks.

By 2025 heavy-duty freight trucks will operate in platoons using adaptive cruise control, and the driver/logistics manager will be monitoring several vehicles, checking for system glitches, reviewing emissions, and closely watching fuel economy, said Altschul.

“The trucks will stay at the same speed and at the same length from each other. Fuel economy will be especially important,” for shipping goods, said Altschul.


Panelist Levi Tillemann welcomed driverless vehicles as a possible godsend that can drastically reduce auto accidents and death.

“My father and grandfather both died in auto accidents, one due to human error, one due to mechanical malfunction,” said Tillemann, a former Energy Department official and author of “The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future,” a book on the development of electric vehicles.

“If we can reduce the 30,000 people a year that die in accidents, nearly 90 percent due to human error, that’s a good thing,” said Tillemann. “Let’s not hem and haw over this.”

Driverless vehicles can also bring mobility to the disabled community, said Sonya Smith, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Howard University.


The Obama administration is seeking to double the funding for driverless technology research in its 2016 budget for the Department of Transportation, said Jonathan Margolis, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary of state for science, space and health.

Obama is asking Congress for $935 million over the next six years for intelligent transportation systems and automation research, according to the DOT’s pdf FY 2016 Budget Highlights.

Other panelist included Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Karl-Josef Kuhn, head of reliable automation and control with Siemens AG.

Photos courtesy Daimler AG.

D20 Stock Index

Tesla Sends Driverless Stock Index Higher

For the third week in a row, the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index advanced, rising nearly 1.3 percent to finish at 142.197. This broad-based advance brought 18 gainers and two losers — Google (GOOG) and KVH Industries (KVHI). Google was the week’s absolute loser, dropping $10.06, or 1.8 percent, to end the week at $538.95. KVH, the mobile data services provider, lost 1.9 percent, to be the leading D20 percentage loser this week and finishing at $12.86.

D20 Weekly

Tesla (TSLA) made up almost all of last week’s loss by gaining $13.34, or 6.6 percent, to end the week as the absolute winner at $217.11. China’s BYD Company (BYDDY) gained impressively, adding 15.2 percent, or $1.14, to finish at $8.66. Time will tell if Warren Buffett’s $230 million investment in 2008 in this Chinese Electric Vehicle company will pay off. Volkswagen (VLKAY) had a strong week, rising 6.2 percent, or $3.01, to finish at $51.36 for the first time since the inception of the D20 Index. Volkswagen continues to challenge Toyota for the global top spot in car production finishing 2014 at 10.14 million vehicles compared to Toyota’s 10.23 million.

This week we compare the D20 Index to the NASDAQ ETF CARZ, an exchange traded fund that tracks the NASDAQ OMX Global Auto Index. CARZ is a modified market-capitalization weighted index designed to track the performance of the largest and most liquid companies engaged in manufacturing of automobiles. Its top five holdings are stock from Daimler AG (DDAIF), General Motors (GM), Honda (HMC), Toyota (TM) and Ford (F). The D20 Index will track closely to the CARZ price increases or decreases because five of the top 10 holdings in CARZ are reflected in the D20 Index.




Visit the D20 Stock Index page for more information.



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