Most of us have been there at one time or another; stuck behind a truck on a narrow two-lane road with the choice between cruising impatiently at the back or taking a potentially hideous risk of blindly overtaking. So what if the truck in front of us had a screen that displayed a real-time video of the road ahead? It’s not an entirely new concept, but one that Samsung has revived in Argentina. Sure, it’s partly an ad campaign, but is the idea genius or just really, truly terrible?
The truck screen is made up of four monitors mounted on the back doors of Samsung’s delivery vehicles, which are wirelessly connected to a video camera mounted in the front window of the truck. While the video only shows the displays working in low light, the company insists the LED monitors are able to deflect solar glare—and Samsung is seeking regulatory approval to deploy its “Safety Truck” in Argentina, which has a huge number of narrow roads.
On the face of it, the idea makes sense: you can see clearly if there’s oncoming traffic, and have a sense of the gap between the truck and any vehicles ahead of it. But, as the Verge points out, it would be a huge investment for any trucking company to make—not just in terms of the initial investment but also in terms of the added weight and fuel usage that the monitors would use. And this for no actual real financial gain.
While trucking companies need to be aware of safety, there’s also the potential for liability—if a vehicle passes a truck and gets into an accident in a normal situation, the truck company is not at fault. But what if the vehicle passes the truck based on inaccurate information on the video feed? Then there is a case for suing the truck company. And, as Gizmodo points out, what happens if someone tampers with the video feed? Could we be lining up a whole new form of distracted driving?