Nikola Corporation today announced that it has selected PlusDrive, the next generation safety system developed by Plus, for the Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the hydrogen electric vehicle in the U.S.
The first factory-installed Nikola Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles that will incorporate enhanced driver assistance features powered by PlusDrive will be available by the end of 2024.
“The enhanced driver assistance features are yet another differentiator of Nikola’s premium driver experience for our customers,” said Michael Lohscheller, President and CEO, Nikola Corporation. “We are one of the first OEMs to offer 100% electric steering paired with the ZF EBS braking system. This base technology in all our vehicles, combined with Nikola’s own internally developed vehicle controls, over-the-air updates and vehicle security can enable the integration of these advanced sensors and the realization of the PlusDrive safety system from Plus.”
Designed for drivers by drivers, PlusDrive offers unmatched safety, fuel efficiency, and driver comfort features. PlusDrive elevates the role of the professional driver to a pilot who supervises the system to drive on the highway. Its capabilities go far beyond basic driver assistance capabilities such as lane keeping and automatic emergency brakes. PlusDrive also handles everything from staying centered in the lane, lane changes, merges, stop-and-go traffic, and nudging, while the driver remains alert and attentive. New driving features are continuously added over-the-air without any additional truck downtime.
Together with Nikola’s base technology, PlusDrive will moderate and predict the optimal and safest speed, while also taking full advantage of regenerative braking in traffic and slowing conditions. The vehicle is expected to keep the best position within the lane and account for other large vehicles and emergency vehicles.
With PlusDrive, the Nikola Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles will come with best-in-class incident detection capabilities via the multiple cameras to be used together with short-range radar, and LiDAR. The advanced sensor suite will assist the driver to safely interact with other drivers and provide additional protection for liability mitigation.
When not in use on the highway, the Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicles will maintain the ability to detect obstacles and traffic in the blind spots. Other traffic, including motorcycles and pedestrians, will continue to be highlighted to provide drivers with their proximity information. The system will work in all traffic conditions, including loading docks. Pedestrian safety around the trucks is especially important as much quieter zero-emissions vehicles become a mainstay. The system will highlight pedestrians around the vehicle to help ensure safety of typical operations including loading and unloading, inspections, and charging and fueling. Safe operation during high-power charging and hydrogen fueling will also be supplemented with detection and recording features.
“We are proud to support a zero-emission future and provide the underlying safety system behind Nikola’s enhanced driver assistance features. The proven commercial readiness of our highly automated solution PlusDrive accelerates the deployment for our partners and sets a new bar for safety and sustainability for the trucking industry,” said David Liu, CEO and Co-Founder, at Plus.
Multiple fleets including PGT Trucking and Christenson Transportation have agreed to pilot the initial Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks which will be available in late 2023. Given the overwhelming fleet interest in the system, Nikola is establishing an Enhanced Driver Assistance Customer Council to collaborate with fleets and Plus to continue refining the system.
“PGT Trucking is committed to advancing the transportation industry through the Future of Flatbed®, strategically partnering with like-minded companies, like Nikola, to implement innovative technology and equipment into our fleet,” said Gregg Troian, PGT Trucking President. “We will actively participate in the ongoing development of the Nikola PlusDrive-enabled units, using these trucks in real-world applications, improving safety standards and enhancing the lifestyle for our drivers.”
“Christenson Transportation has and continues to invest in the safest technology available on the market to lower our carbon emissions to meet the goals of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Don Christenson, Christenson Transportation President. “The Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks, along with the current Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicle, will play a significant role in helping us achieve this vision and improve work, life balance for our drivers. We are proud to be one of the first customers to pilot these trucks this year and play an active role in the launch of this innovative technology.”