Drone Helps Truck Drivers Reverse, Inspect Rigs

Truck drivers have a tough job. Slow traffic, looming deadlines, mechanical failures and backing up to the loading dock. Drones to the rescue, at least for the last two tasks.

This patent application discloses a method to assist truck drivers in backing up and inspecting the truck components prior to departure. It gives a driver an ‘eye in the sky’ view of the surroundings, elements the driver cannot normally see. As the application puts it, “[m]any times, the driver of a larger vehicle will have a person stand by the side of the vehicle to assist the driver when backing up in reverse. In addition, “[l]arger vehicles, especially the larger class trucks used for commercial purposes, are often mandated to undergo periodic inspections, usually before every trip, to ensure that the vehicle is fully operational to minimize the possibility of collisions, break downs, and accidents. To date, most methods of vehicle inspection are done by a person, usually the driver. A driver can only walk around and visually inspect each of the inspection points on the vehicle to confirm that the vehicle is in proper working order prior to being driven.

The drone can be activated automatically or be under the driver’s control. The drone will inspect elements such as lights: “in the case of lights, the UAV 200 may send a message that the light is either burned out or too dim. Additionally, a controller may provide both a diagnosis and a suggested repair to the driver via the human machine interface, or the controller may simply state the problem with the inspection point”


Claim 1 is straightforward:

  1. A backup system for a wheeled vehicle, comprising:
  • a wheeled vehicle comprising a cab;
  • an unmanned aerial vehicle comprising a camera;
  • a controller configured to communicate to and from the unmanned aerial vehicle while in flight;
  • a human machine interface within the cab, wherein the human machine interface is configured to communicate with the controller, and an electronic display device within the cab configured to display visual images sent from the unmanned aerial vehicle while in flight, and the controller is further configured to transmit input signals received via the human machine interface to the unmanned aerial vehicle;
  • and wherein the unmanned aerial vehicle is configured to maneuver autonomously or under driver remote control based on the input signals received from the human machine interface, and wherein the unmanned aerial vehicle is configured to send real-time video images while in flight from different viewing angles of a rear of the wheeled vehicle during a period when the wheeled vehicle is operating in reverse.



US Patent Application No: 20160129999

Filed (US): November 7, 2014

Published: May 12, 2016

Applicant: PACCAR INC., Bellvue WA

US Class: 701/2