New Trucks Fit For A Secret Agent

New Trucks Fit For A Secret Agent
LOUISVILLE, KY. - A new high-tech truck, fit for a secret agent, could diffuse the threat of highway hijackings and improve safety out on the open road.

Kenworth Truck Company recently rolled out the T800 -- a high-tech concept vehicle manufactured with safety and security as top priorities. The T800 may look like a typical fuel truck, but looks can be deceiving.

"This new Kenworth T800 High Tech-Truck is really a technological marvel," said Ed Caudill, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president.

Many of the features that Kenworth is outfitting cabs with include high-tech options that some customers have been asking for since last year's terrorist attacks.

"Like fuel haulers, and hazardous waste haulers who are very interested in making sure who is driving their vehicles -- 9/11 only speeded up that process," said Ted Scherzinger, a senior technologist with Kenworth.

Security features include a 360-degree camera system that gives drivers a full view of anything and everything surrounding them at all times.

The POV camera system gives drivers eyes and ears around all sides of their vehicle, giving truckers a heads up that another vehicle is too close, or showing them if someone is about to hijack their truck.

Another security measure on-board is the biometric authentication system, which requires drivers to scan their finger on a sensor before the ignition will start. Only driver's authorized to operate a specific truck within a fleet will be allowed to start up the engines.

The Biometric authentication system only lets drivers register one fingerprint as the key to the ignition.

Scherzinger explained how the single finger registration adds further security.

"If you stick a gun to my head, then if you do that, I just use this finger here," explained Scherzinger, placing a non registered finger on the sensor.

Any fingerprint not registered in the onboard database won't start the engine and prompts the truck to send a distress message via wireless Internet to a dispatcher.

Since hijacking of dangerous or flammable cargo is a major security concern, keeping cargo in the right hands on the road is one of the issues Kenworth wanted to address.

The on-board navigational system also sends information to dispatchers in the event of a cargo hijacking.

"And they know exactly where I am because the transponder also sends my GPS position along with the message," explained Scherzinger.

The GPS navigational software onboard is also being designed specifically for truckers with hazardous cargo. If a low bridge is on a trucker's route, the system will warn the driver ahead of time.

Drivers can also keep an eye on what's ahead in the road at night looking through a night vision camera that gives thermal images of the road ahead.

"The advantage is you can see those things before you can see them in the head lights -- 1,500 feet beyond the beyond the headlights, that's substantial distance," said Scherzinger.

Gauges also constantly monitor tire pressure, fuel economy, GPS satellite status, and cargo weight. Truckers also have access to e-mail through the cab's modem.

Some features are brand new to the industry, while others have been included on previous vehicles. Kenworth claims it's the first truck to put virtually every high-tech device available to truckers into one package.

Keeping the highways safe may mean that who's behind the wheel, as well as what's around the vehicles at all times, is just as important to road safety as driving with both hands.

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