From Alexander Winton’s first semi-truck built in 1899 to the newest models in 2020, technology in the trucking industry has grown immensely throughout the years. The very first semi consisted of a short-wheeled automobile and a cart attached to the back. They were only capable of hauling one customer vehicle at a time. With new cutting edge technology, trucks not only have towing capabilities like never before, but they come equipped with new and improved dashboards & driver controls, better fuel efficiency and some serious cab improvements to make life on the road a lot more comfortable.   

Get maximum comfort in your home away from home

Not only do newer semis come with a sleeker, more aerodynamic exterior, they also come with an interior that’s built for life on the road. There is nothing worse than driving for the better part of a day and ending your shift with a night of bad sleep. It’s not always an option for drivers to stop somewhere and check in to a comfortable hotel for the night. But thanks to new truck technology, drivers can not only get better rest, but they can enjoy better overall comfort in the cab of their trucks. Some 2020 models come equipped with larger, more comfortable mattresses (some even adjust to double as a recliner), larger fridge/freezer combos, adjustable fold-out tables, microwaves, tv mounts, Wifi, more outlets and better lighting for a peaceful rest. With new cab design and upgraded features, it’s like bringing along your own personal apartment. 

New and improved driver assistance for better safety 

New rigs are coming equipped with the same great safety tech you see in most new family vehicles. New systems like adaptive cruise control are making life on the road safer for everyone. These are some of the safety features you will now find on most newer semis: 

Lane-departure assist

This feature works like digital rumble strips. Using radar systems and sensors, the truck will sense if it’s veering out of its lane either towards the oncoming lane or the shoulder. It sends an alert to the driver using an audible alarm as well as an on the dash warning to bring the truck back into its own lane. This safety feature is especially helpful if the driver becomes distracted or accidentally drifts off. 

Adaptive cruise control

Drivers can set their cruise control and not have to worry about sudden braking or always adjusting their speed when the car in front slows down. Adaptive cruise control uses sensors in the front end of the truck to detect when the car in front has slowed. The system will automatically brake, adjust the truck’s speed and reset the cruise control. 

Blindspot detection

Your everyday vehicle might be equipped with similar blind-spot detection to that found in semis. Big trucks like tractor-trailers have 4 major blind-spots. It’s very common for other vehicles on the road to “hang out” in a truck’s blind-spot. Trucks are coming equipped with radar/sensors that tell the drivers when another vehicle is in one of their blind spots so the driver knows it’s not safe to change lanes. Although some trucks have this safety feature, it’s important to remember if you can’t see the drivers face in their side mirror, they can’t see you.  

Brake assist

This system works a little bit like adaptive cruise control. When the sensors detect a slow-moving vehicle in front of the truck or another object that could cause a collision, it sends the driver a “collision warning” on the dash. If the driver fails to brake, the system will begin braking and send another warning. If the driver still fails to slow the truck, the system will use the transmission, service brakes and engine brakes to slow the truck safely. 

With new advances in truck technology like the safety features listed above, operators,  fleet managers and other drivers on the road can travel with more peace-of-mind. Drivers go through extensive training before hitting the road, but a few extra safety features never hurt anyone. 

Engines and transmissions are more fuel-efficient and powerful than ever before

Leading truck technology has allowed engines and transmissions to be built out of lighter, stronger materials which make them more powerful, but also fuel-efficient. Smart computer software found in newer trucks, monitors speed, engine load, weight and grade to maximize power and fuel efficiency. They’ve even created auto-shift systems that allow the driver to worry less about the clutch and more about what’s on the road.

To put into perspective just how far truck technology has come, take a look at the first semi (capable of towing under 2000lbs) and compare it to the Volvo FH16 that’s capable of towing 1,500,000 lbs. Yep, you read that right! The Volvo FH16 was put to the test to see just how much it could pull. Turns out it was A LOT. 750 tons, or 1.5 mil pounds. This isn’t going to be a daily haul for any truck, but the fact that technology has made it even possible is pretty amazing.

All this new fancy truck technology might have you excited to get yourself into a newer truck, but it might also be stressing you out. There’s a lot more that can go wrong on a truck that has all the bells and whistles, but we’ve got you covered. Overdrive Heavy Duty is constantly keeping up with advances in technology and our skilled technicians are always current in their training and skill set. Put your mind at ease when purchasing a new rig with any new systems. At Overdrive, we keep you moving.