Tech for semiautonomous trucks developed, refined in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The future of driving is being developed and refined right here in Indiana. The technology behind semiautonomous vehicles was on display Thursday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In the blazing late-summer sun in a parking lot at the track on Thursday, sat a brand new truck outfitted with enough technology to make your head spin.

Though the truck may look like an ordinary semi, it packs an extraordinary punch.

The technology that drives the semiautonomous vehicle is built from a series of other technologies that are all being developed and refined in Indiana. When the pieces are put together, the truck can be driven by a driver, or by the technology or remotely if all else fails.

“No hands on the steering wheel is what scares everyone,” said Craig Barnes, who is a consulting engineer with SAE. “But it’s the technology pieces that go together that some day will bring us that truly autonomous safe vehicle that will produce a cleaner environment and a safer environment.”

The pieces and parts that allow drivers to drive without their hands are kind of like building blocks — very complex building blocks.

Engineers have developed a system to warn drivers a vehicle is in their blind spot. The steering wheel shakes a little bit to give them a warning.

Another piece of the puzzle is keeping trucks in their own lane.

“The smart car has to understand that there’s a dumb car next to it,” explained Barnes.

The technology that allows the truck to operate in the parking lot without an active driver is a small step to truly autonomous vehicles.

No one can say exactly when drivers will surrender their driving skills to this new technology, but that day is coming.

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