Germany’s Daimler unveils ‘world’s first’ self-driving truck
Daimler Trucks scored the distinction of becoming the first manufacturer to be granted a license to operate an autonomous heavy-duty truck on public roads. Named the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, the vehicle drove itself on US highway 15 in Las Vegas with Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada, and Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, member of theDaimler AG board for Trucks and Buses in the vehicle.
Making this self-driving feat a reality is the truck’s integrated Highway Pilot system, which is aimed at making road transportation safer and more efficient. This system incorporates a front radar and a stereo camera in conjunction with ride assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control+.
To show the significance and opportunities of autonomous driving functions for the global trucking industry we were willing to go ways that people did not dare to think about before. The Stuttgart-based company said in a statement that Nevada had approved two Freightliner Inspiration trucks for regular driving on public roads.
The vehicles have smart systems including sensors and active speed regulators, and are authorized for use without a human driver — although one has to be present to monitor the system and take the wheel if necessary.
“The authorization to drive on roads in the United States is an important step for self-driving trucks,” said Bernhard.
Daimler, whose vehicles include the high-end Mercedes-Benz range and compact Smart cars, is also the world’s biggest maker of trucks with brands including Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Fuso and BharatBenz.
The German giant is a pioneer in self-driving technology, both in cars and trucks.
In an interview Wednesday in the German business daily Handelsblatt Bernhard trumpeted the advantages of self-driving vehicles. Besides increased safety compared to human drivers, they can save up to 5 percent in fuel usage.
The truck driver’s job is also made less tedious and therefore more attractive, he added.
He added that a totally self-driving truck, without the need for human monitoring, “will not be with us before 2025.” Self-driving cars in urban settings, where traffic conditions are more complex, are even further off, he added.
Daimler is currently seeking authorization in Germany similar to that obtained in Nevada, he added.
The German carmaker tested a Mercedes-Benz self-driving truck in Germany in July, but on a stretch of motorway with no other traffic on it.