Daimler has trialled three autonomous Mercedes-Benz trucks on public roads from Germany to the Netherlands in an attempt to promote platooning.
The lorries, all Mercedes-Benz Actros, were fitted with Daimler’s Highway Pilot Connect system, which pairs the trucks together using vehicle-to-vehicle technology. This allows the leading truck to deliver a continuous stream of information to the other vehicles through a wi-fi connection.
An array of cameras and sensors allow the trucks to avoid obstacles in the road and even perform an emergency stop. Daimler claims that these systems reduce the reaction time to less than one-tenth of a second, down from 1.4 seconds for a human driver.
At least two trucks are needed to start the autonomous platoon, with the first truck in the queue dictating the speed. Unlike heavy vehicles driven by a human, which are required to drive at least 50 metres apart, Daimler says its autonomous lorries can safely run with just 15 metres between them.
According to Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, responsible for Daimler Trucks & Daimler Buses in Daimler’s Board of Management, “We consider platooning as meaningful part of the integrated approach in which all stakeholders in road transport contribute to reduce fuel consumption and CO2. Driving in a convoy is one of numerous examples to raise the performance of goods transport extensively with connected trucks. Today already 365 000 commercial vehicles of Daimler are connected. We are consequently pushing this development.”