The Trucks of the Future Are Here: Self-Driving and Hybrid Trucks Are Becoming Commonplace in the United States

Pickup trucks are popular vehicles in the United States; in fact, the total number of pickup trucks sold last year was 221,228 unit . But now, newer technologies are bringing pickup trucks of the future to the roads.

The United States Army has successfully finished their first live test of self-driving trucks. In an attempt to convert their entire fleet towards fully autonomous self driving vehicles, this test was done on a strip of highway in rural Michigan.

The convoy consisted of four driverless vehicles and showcased their ability to communicate with roadside units put in place by the Michigan Department of Transportation. This vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) capability is crucial in further development and expansion of the autonomous vehicles.

Overall, these V2I capabilities increase safety, reduce distracting tasks, and carry supplies for soldiers all while sending other vehicles important information about traffic signals and collisions.

This partnership between the state of Michigan and the Army may open up the possibility of the state being the starting point for development of all of the Army’s self-driving cars in the future.

Paul Rodgers, director of the Army’s research center, explained the partnership to “We have a shared interest in a lot of the advanced capabilities and technologies that not only enable our military to succeed in combat but also enable our commercial industries,” he said.

In addition to self-driving trucks, hybrid trucks are growing in popularity. Earlier this year, Nikola Motors announced that it was developing a truck that runs on hybrid energy.

Their product, Nikola One, is powered by lithium battery packs and a compressed natural gas generator. Nikola boasts that this car will beat out any competitors in terms of power, efficiency, weight, speed, and safety.

In addition, these trucks would boast two to three times more mileage than their diesel counterparts, along with almost no emissions.

Typically, the average hybrid vehicle will decrease harmful emissions to the environment by 25 to 35% annually, and the implications for these specific trucks are huge because they save more fuel and emissions per gallon than hybrid cars.

Overall, the truck’s fuel efficiency ranges between eight and 12 miles per gallon, and its tank can store 100 gallons which will yield a 1,200 mile maximum range.

The hype for the Nikola is unprecedented. There have already been $2.3 billion dollars in pre-sales within the first month. To date, more than 7,000 auto enthusiasts signed up for a truck, despite the company being three to four years away from production.

While the trucks are projected to cost $375,000 — double the price of a traditional diesel truck — Nikola is touting its cheaper, more cost-effective operating and maintenance costs.

Even though this phenomenon is relatively new in the United States, Sweden has already jumped on board the hybrid vehicle bandwagon.

Almost half of Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions come from freight transport, so in order to protect the climate, the country has plans to implement an electric highway for hybrid vehicles. Coming within the next two years, this 125-mile stretch of highway north of Stockholm will lead the country on a more environmentally-friendly path.

The vehicles would operate via a sensor embedded on the top of a hybrid truck that would connect to a contact line within the highway. Once connected, the truck would run via its electric motor.

On this system, Sweden predicts that their hybrid trucks will be able to travel at nearly 56 miles per hour while simultaneously charging the vehicle’s battery.

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