Monthly newsletters from the Vice Presidents of the HVTT Forum.

April 2024 Newsletter

Dear HVTT Forum subscriber,

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of working alongside my colleagues from Québec and an international Program Committee to begin the work of organizing HVTT18! In this newsletter, I highlight six key topics that we look forward to exploring at the Symposium, so that we can collectively shape the future of S2MART road freight transport systems.

Efforts toward decarbonization of road freight transport in North America moved forward as the United States Joint Office of Energy and Transportation released its strategy for establishing national zero-emission freight corridors. The strategy sets the stage for significant policy action and investment: “The United States has committed to decarbonizing freight transportation by advancing deployment of commercial zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (ZE-MHDVs) and infrastructure.”

Safe and Modern
How prepared is existing U.S. roadway infrastructure for Automated Driving Systems (ADS) technology? A new open-source data repository designed to support ADS integration is now available to help answer this question. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in partnership with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and, recorded cross-country road trips by ADS-equipped trucks along five major cross-country routes. Data from these deployments were used to develop a road readiness rating system for ADS technology, covering lane markings, GPS and cellular signal connectivity, and road bumpiness/smoothness. The data from the cross-country road trips are saved on the open-access VTTI CONOPS Dataverse. This national dataset on the infrastructure and ADS performance metrics required for ADS operations can inform realistic use cases for fleets and support ADS integration into the freight network. The VTTI CONOPS Dataverse is currently available and can be accessed hereSpecial thanks to Dr. Erin Mabry, Senior Research Associate, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, for this contribution.

A commonly cited barrier to the use of zero-emission trucks is their increased tare weight and the related productivity losses resulting from less payload capacity. In Canada, at least one province (British Columbia) has introduced a 1500-kg weight allowance for full-sized electric commercial vehicles and a 1000-kg weight allowance for vehicles with fuel cells. This brings the gross vehicle limit of those trucks to 65,000 kg and 64,500 kg, respectively. The regulation, which has put into place in 2021, is an example of adaptability within road freight transport regulations. Further work is needed to identify such barriers, to adapt regulatory structures considering broader societal goals, and to develop data-driven methods to better understand the costs and benefits of those adaptations.

Here at the University of Manitoba, ongoing research has focused on the resilience of road freight transport systems vis-à-vis disruptive events. Supported with funding from the National Research Council of Canada’s Artificial Intelligence for Logistics program, we recently examined key concepts and metrics used to characterize and measure road freight transport system resilience across three dimensions: physical infrastructure, users, and managing organizations. The review revealed critical data gaps and methodological shortcomings, but also contributed a new framework for measuring resilience through the life-cycle of a disruption.

Disruptions of various types impact the reliability—or trustworthiness—of the physical network and the supply chain. To highlight this, allow me to stray beyond the road freight mode. On March 26, 2024, a cargo ship struck a bridge spanning a river near Baltimore, Maryland. The impact caused a catastrophic collapse of the bridge and tragic loss of life. As investigations and recovery proceed, it is evident that the loss of physical connectivity will have significant impacts on the functionality of local infrastructure networks and on the ability of the multi-modal supply chain to meet consumer demands.

As the HVTT18 Program Committee considered themes for the Symposium, we were aware of the numerous inter-relationships amongst the six S2MART topics, and the need to be mindful of all six as we move the trucking industry forward. You still have a few days to submit an abstract for HVTT18! Short abstracts (300 to 500 words) are due on May 3, 2024, covering one or more of the conference topics. More information on conference topics and the submission procedure can be found here. We look forward to welcoming you to Québec City from May 26 to 29, 2025.

And a closing note on the weather: spring has arrived early here in Winnipeg, ushered in by a rare solar eclipse following a warmer and drier than normal winter.

Jonathan Regehr

HVTT Vice President, North America