ftl_cascadia_023_h-582x416WE’RE MOVING INTO the age of the connected vehicle. And as excited as we might be to have cars that play our ’90s alternative rock Spotify playlists and let us send text messages via voice control, such things are frivolous compared to the safety and efficiency benefits that come when you wire up tractor trailers.

Daimler Trucks North America signed a deal Thursday to take a small stake (less than 25 percent) in Zonar, which specializes in connecting truck computers, drivers, and fleet operators who can use all that data to increase efficiency and safety. The tech provider will remain independent, but it’s a sign that Daimler’s committed to using new tools to make trucking as efficient as possible. This kind of work isn’t new, nor is it unique to these players. Volvo Trucks offers customers remote, realtime diagnostics, for example. Daimler’s been working with Zonar since 2011.

Based in Seattle, Zonar works on applications in four areas: safety compliance, fuel efficiency, maintenance, and operations. The core idea is simple: Collecting data on how trucks and drivers are operating can make everything about the business safer and more efficient. Connected cars are nice, says Zonar CEO Brett Brinton. But when it comes to trucks, “we believe it’s a completely different story.”

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