The first self-driving trucks
Self-driving cars are the future in Automotive. Next to the fully automatic and self-driving Toyota Prius, TNO recently came up with the concept of self-driving trucks, in order to increase on-the-road safety and to stimulate traffic flow. In collaboration with DAF Trucks, TNO strives to make technology for self-driving trucks commercially available in the next five years and has designed a test program for self-driving trucks on public roads. As a senior systems engineer, Employeneur Ben Schueler participates in this project and plays an important role in the development of the first self-driving trucks in The Netherlands.
‘I started with this job in September 2014,’ Ben states. ‘Together with the TNO Integrated Vehicle Safety team, I do research on solutions to making self-driving trucks as safe as possible. We have just finished the full concept and are now testing the first trucks in order to get new data and, possibly, improve safety. In the test phase, two self-driving trucks are driving after each other with just a short distance between them. The second truck follows the first one, with a driver inside in case something happens and an intervention needs to be done. The trucks are equipped with sensors and are able to communicate with each other, so they can adapt to the first truck. For example, when the first truck needs to make an emergency stop, the other trucks receive a sign and stop immediately. Eventually, we want to make the trucks and infrastructure communicate with each other as well, so if the traffic lights turn red, every truck – including the last one – gets a warning so it stops. Traffic and infrastructure will work together, so as to reduce accidents and to avert traffic jams by using the asphalt more efficiently and being more environmentally friendly.’.
His job at TNO Automotive is Ben’s sixth project for TMC. Before, he worked at TNO Delft, Liquavista, ASML, IRX Innovations and Omron on several projects in electronics, which resulted in his wide knowledge of system design, embedded systems, micro-controllers, robotics, vision systems, smart cameras, smart sensors, collaborative sensors and mechatronics in general: a combination of skills that fits the job at TNO perfectly. ‘In almost 5,5 years at TMC, I have never been in-between jobs,’ Ben continues. ‘The project at TNO Automotive was one I had proposed myself, because of the challenging aspects and wide knowledge it required. The mutual communication between the trucks and between the trucks and the infrastructure is one of the most important parts of this project. Besides, I like the combination of several business cells, like Mechanical and Electronics, and the small project teams, that give you the opportunity to do a lot by yourself. For this job, a proactive attitude and the ability to work both in a team and independently are required. It is something I enjoy and recognize in my earlier work for TMC’.
Read more about Ben’s previous projects for TMC.