Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Techy Tuesday - Making Big Trucks "Invisible"

This is relatively simple solution, and like some things I've covered here before, but Samsung has demonstrated a solution to make big trucks safer to be around on the road.  By putting cameras on the front of a tractor trailer and large flat panels on the back, they effectively make the truck transparent.
Back in 2009, Russian design house Art Lebedev introduced the dramatically titled Transparentius concept for improving road safety. It was remarkably simple: put a camera on the front of large, slow-moving trucks and connect it to video displays on the back, thereby informing trailing drivers whether it's safe to overtake the big rig. That's the exact same idea that Samsung is now pursuing with a new prototype truck. Making use of its abundance of outdoor displays, the Korean company has stitched together a video wall of four displays at the rear of the truck, which transmits video captured by a wireless camera at the front.
In the video, Samsung refers to developing this project in Argentina and saying that on average almost one person dies in a vehicle accident in that country every hour.  They claim a large percentage of them are in overtaking/passing situations.

My guess is that unless Samsung has giant monitors they can't otherwise sell stacked waist deep in a warehouse bigger than a football stadium, it's going to be a bit too pricey for most transportation companies.  From the trucking company's perspective, it would be expense that has no payback or benefit. At the least, it would be hard to quantify what benefit the trucking company gets from it.

Neat idea, but perhaps a bit short on cost-effectiveness.  


  1. I live out West and I do a lot of driving. 50-60 years ago truck drivers were called the knights of the road. Not any more. They drive too fast, they change lanes carelessly and they often wander out of their lane as they text, read, eat, shave, talk on the CB, and otherwise are distracted. It is exciting to try to pass a truck going 80 mph or have one pass you doing 80. Did you know that a fully loaded 18 wheeler driving 65 mph requires 1/8th of a mile to stop? The speed limit for a truck should be set based on it's stopping distance and they should be banned from passing or leaving the right hand lane if they are alreaady going the speed limit.

  2. That's not how it works here in the land of the free though. When it comes to our safety any cost is justified for any (even if it is no more than just a perceived) benefit. This obviously needs to be law!

    David Martin

  3. Interesting idea but as you mentioned the monitors are expensive and I suspect would have a short lifespan due to exposure to the elements.
    How about replacing the monitors on the back of the van with a low-powered transmitter that provides a video signal to the car behind the truck? Have the video displayed on the car's monitor. I don't need OnStar or GPS but knowing whether it's safe to pass or not would be a useful option that might influence my next car purchase. The car manufacturers and/or insurance companies could provide the camera and sending unit free to the trucking companies. Install the camera on the van and put a huge ID number on the back doors of the van so that in the vicinity of multiple trucks the driver can choose the correct signal.


  4. Al_in_Ottawa is on the right track but perhaps the wrong destination. Same with Samsung, for al the reasons you mentioned, SiG.

    If video assistance for passing is a viable solution, why not a small camera outboard of the driver's side mirror? Crowding the lane divider would then provide a view past the vehicle in front (something that can be done today without a video camera.....). A telephoto lens would be required since the passing driver should only care about what's several hundred yards in front of the obstructing vehicle.

    The issue then becomes how to view the result, which requires some sort of display within the driver's field of view. The ideal would be a HUD with distance gradations (similar to a BDC rifle scope) in the lower left corner of the windshield; repeatedly pulling the driver's eyes into the vehicle center and down is not conducive to increased highway safety.

    As soon as one manufacturer equips its vehicles in such a manner our Lords and Rulers in Washington will mandate the equipment on every car. I'd be a little surprised if Samsung's cute trick doesn't follow that path within 5 years.

    The alternative, of course, is learn how to properly drive the f*****g car in varying conditions, something functional adults used to be capable of.

  5. > Neat idea, but perhaps a bit short on cost-effectiveness.
    How many years before the FedGovCo mandates it?

  6. A lot of good ideas, here. The cost of lawyers and litigation is something I really didn't consider. If it proves to prevent accidents, I could see the Fed.Gov mandating it. They love forcing big expenses on companies for little benefit. It's for the greater good. It's for the chidrin.

  7. Speaking of lawyers and litigation, two things: first, what measures is Samsung taking on their trucks to prevent the camera being obstructed by snow, ice, mud, etc? Not having the camera/monitor solution operating at design standards under all possible conditions is lawyer bait, and second, if Samsung has it on their trucks, how long before all other trucking companies get sued for not implementing the latest and greatest safety features? It's probably significant that Samsung did not show this off in America.

    And what will happen when Suzy Creamcheese, low IQ driver texting or talking on her phone, comes up behind a Samsung truck, looks at the display, assumes it is a clear road ahead and drives into the back of the truck?

    Which gets me to wondering - how many good ideas that might be useful never see the light of day (or even become part of a company's written records) because someone says "lawyers"?

  8. Which gets me to wondering - how many good ideas that might be useful never see the light of day (or even become part of a company's written records) because someone says "lawyers"? I think if we knew the total number across all of society, we'd die of shock.