GPS and the Future of Trucking

Eleanor Hanson

Indeed, I was at the Consumer Electronics Show the year when GPS devices were just becoming available for the public. I was happy because I was busy traveling around the nation in a Mobile Command Center running my business and had all the bells and whistles, even a satellite Internet antenna, completely new back in the 1990s. I was fully wired, and not just on caffeine, if you know what I mean.

GPS technology has sure come a long way since then, even in the last few years. In August of 2010 Garmin had just recalled some 1.3 Million GPS units due to equipment device fires, challenges with circuit board designs. They made good on that and stayed the leader in the industry.

There was an interesting article in the Commercial Carrier Journal on September 12, 2013 titled; “Who’s the captain? GPS device takes a trucker on a wild ride,” by Aaron Huff which stated; “A truck driver was supposed to deliver a flatbed load of fencing material near the mouth of Butterfield Canyon on the southwest corner of the Salt Lake valley in Utah. The driver never came. Instead, around 1:00 P.M. the police received a call for help. The driver was stuck on a sharp left turn high in the canyon. The trailer tires were inches away from careening down a steep cliff at the center of the giant mine.”

Apparently, his GPS told him to keep going, so he didn’t make the correct turn and drove a mile further, no place to turn around and the road got narrower and narrower. It was clearly the GPS’s fault right? Yah, but even if the GPS makes a mistake the driver will be blamed in the end. I’ve seen drivers accidentally drive into a no-truck area due to GPS and get a ticket, which they had to pay for, plus points on their driving record.

Okay so, consider this, before we get autonomous cars and trucks, we are going to need have completely full-proof GPS, but to do that we need better back up, better accuracy, better software, better data vendors, and universal compatibility – next, we will need other-than-satellite strategies for positioning.

Lastly, we are going to have to expect more from users, more responsibility to go along with the system, especially when passengers, high-priority freight, and autonomous systems rely on Six Sigma or better perfection. Indeed, I am not here to trash on the GPS of our time, just to remind everyone that there is room for improvement and this needs to be a priority, so please consider all this and think on it.

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