Daimler Trucks has taken its autonomous heavy-duty truck on public roads in the United States after being granted the world’s first road licence for such a vehicle.
The manufacturer’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck is equipped with a stereo camera and radar systems with lane-keeping and collision-prevention functions.
The intelligent Highway Pilot system regulates the vehicle’s speed and distance from the vehicle in front. It also steers and applies the brakes.
Extensive tests were carried out on the interaction of the components before the autonomous truck was licensed to operate on public roads in Nevada.
“The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is all about more sustainable transport, for the benefit of the economy, society and consumers alike,” commented Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America. He said that the company aims to be in a position to offer the Highway Pilot in series-produced vehicles from the middle of the next decade.
“With licensing for road use in the USA we have reached an important milestone in autonomous truck driving,” Daum added.
Daimler said that the truck is not “driverless” because a fully qualified driver must remain in control of the truck in certain traffic situations on the highway and on country roads, in city traffic and when hooking up a trailer or making deliveries.
But it stressed the advantages of autonomous driving, which relieves drivers from tiring and often monotonous long-distance routes. Studies conducted on a cordoned-off route during pilot tests revealed that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25%, increasing road safety, when the truck is being operated in autonomous mode and the driver is pursuing other tasks.