Driving behind enormous trucks could get a lot safer in the coming years, thanks to Samsung's new "Safety Truck."
The Safety Truck, which is currently in development, has a wireless camera attached to the front, connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. This way, those driving behind can see on the monitors what's happening in front of the truck. The technology works during the day or at night.
The main purpose of the Safety Truck is to allow drivers to have a better view when deciding whether or not to attempt to pass the truck ahead of them, Samsung says. Another potential advantage of the Safety Truck is that it could reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking, as drivers behind the truck can see if any animals or cars suddenly come into the truck's path.
The idea was first suggested in 2009 by Russian design house Art Lebedev, which called it the Transparentius concept. Samsung led the prototype development by providing large-format display samples, and conducted a test with a local business-to-business client, according to the company's website.
"So far Samsung has been able to confirm that the technology works and that this idea can definitely save the lives of many people," Samsung noted in a blog post.
In this blog post, Samsung uses Argentina as an example of a country which could greatly benefit from the Safety Truck. The company explains that Argentina has one of the highest car accident rates in the world, with nearly one person dying in a car crash every hour. Many of these crashes are caused by people attempting to overtake vehicles ahead of them on two-lane roads, says the Samsung blog.
While the Safety Truck has received generally positive feedback, some are skeptical of its practicality. Vlad Savov, senior editor at The Verge, believes the concept "doesn't appear economically practical at large scale."
"The camera might be cheap and simple enough to install, but four displays per truck would be a major investment for any transport company to make, especially since it wouldn't lead to any direct financial benefit," Savov writes. "Still, it's impressive that Samsung has managed to overcome the technical challenges (like solar glare) of realizing this otherwise laudable idea."
Savov suggests a less costly and equally as effective technology could be Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication (V2V) systems, which are expected to be available in the US sometime within the next two years. With a V2V system, cars transmit data about their position, direction, and speed to the other vehicles around them. The system can therefore issue alerts about unsafe driving by others or notify drivers of any collisions ahead.
The Safety Truck is still only a prototype and is not yet operational. Samsung says it is currently working on performing the corresponding tests in order to comply with the existing national protocols. The company is also working with the Argentinian government and other safe-driving non-governmental organizations to obtain the necessary permits and approvals.