This truck follows cars in going driver-less

Daimler Trucks has become the world´s first manufacturer to be granted a road license for an autonomous heavy-duty truck.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 06 May 2015 Views icon5836 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Daimler Trucks has become the world´s first manufacturer to be granted a road license for an autonomous heavy-duty truck. The first journey in the so-called Freightliner Inspiration Truck, which took place on US highway 15 in Las Vegas, was made by Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada, and Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard.

The truck is equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot system for autonomous driving. The state of Nevada licensed two Freightliner Inspiration Trucks for regular operation on public roads. Daimler Trucks is the global leading truck manufacturer and, with the Freightliner brand, also the biggest producer in the US.

The world premiere of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck took place near Las Vegas. Trucks are by far the most important means of transport in the US. In 2012, trucks transported around 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the United States – 9.4 billion tonnes of freight. Globally, the road freight transport is expected to even triple between now and 2050.

“Our Freightliner Inspiration Truck is the world´s first autonomous commercial vehicle to be licensed for road use. Our achievement here underlines yet again our role as a technological pioneer and demonstrates our consistent dedication to develop the technology for autonomous long-distance driving to series production standard. I am proud of this extra-ordinary achievement by the Daimler Trucks team,” stated Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG board member responsible for Trucks and Buses.

Highway Pilot system to be developed to series production standard
In July last year, Daimler Trucks provided the world´s first demonstration of an autonomous truck in action when the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a cordoned-off section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg. Now, the first appearance of the Inspiration Truck on a public road in the US marks the logical next step on the journey to series production. In the last few months, the technology has been tested over many thousands of kilometres and configured for use in US highway traffic.

“We are in a unique position among manufacturers that we are able to implement technologies across all business units and brands. We have transferred our Highway Pilot system to our US Freightliner brand within a very short time frame and developed it for the world´s first autonomous truck to be licensed for road use,” says Dr. Bernhard.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is based on the series-produced US Freightliner Cascadia Evolution model, but with the addition of the Highway Pilot technology. The latter comprises a front radar and a stereo camera plus tried-and-tested assistance systems such as the Adaptive Cruise Control+, as seen in the Mercedes-Benz Actros. For licensing on public roads in Nevada, the technology was further developed and the excellent interaction of components extensively tested. As part of the truck´s so-called Marathon Run, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck covered over 10,000 miles (over 16,000km) on a test circuit in Germany.

“The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is all about more sustainable transport, for the benefit of the economy, society and consumers alike. It remains our goal to be in a position to offer the Highway Pilot in series-produced vehicles from the middle of the coming decade. With licensing for road use in the USA we have reached an important milestone in autonomous truck driving,” emphasizes Martin Daum, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA).

“Daimler Trucks is actively urging dialogue with politicians, authorities and all other parties involved. Our next goal is to test the Highway Pilot technology on public roads in Germany too. Preparations are already under way”, Dr. Bernhard adds.

Autonomous driving relieves the strain of truck drivers

Initial findings of studies conducted by Daimler Trucks reveal that the Highway Pilot technology demonstrably leads to more concentrated and thus more efficient long-haul truck drivers. These studies were conducted on a cordoned-off test route during the pilot stage of the technology. Measurements of the probands´ brain currents (EEG) demonstrated that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25% when the truck is being operated in autonomous mode, and the driver all the while pursuing other meaningful operations. The studies also prove a high acceptance of the Highway Pilot technology and a rapid adaption phase of the probands.

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