We have reported on several self-driving cars, but now comes the first autonomous truck – the Freightliner Inspiration – which is legally allowed to operate in the American state of Nevada.
Daimler Trucks first demonstrated the technology last year when the Mercedes-Benz’s Future Truck 2025 drove unassisted along a stretch of motorway close to Magdeburg in Germany. The technology transfer to the US truck brand included a radar as well as stereo camera in conjunction with existing safety systems such as adaptive cruise control. It all forms part of
a package called Highway Pilot.
As the name suggests, the system can be activated on a freeway and, without requiring any driver inputs, the truck will adhere to the local speed limit, stay in its lane and brake automatically amid slow-moving traffic. If the traffic slows to a crawl, the system can cope with rush hour stop-start conditions.
For safety reasons, the system cannot initiate passing manoeuvres or lane changes (those can only be performed by the driver). The technology is undoubtedly an innovative idea for long-haul applications and should improve road safety. Hopefully the system will be able to perform all functions in the future… Suffice to say driver error still
plays a major role in many HGV accidents.