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June 14, 2015Daimler Unleashes Self-Driving Trucks

Self-driving trucks are the newest invention to be gracing the highways of the US. Though not currently in full-time use, these innovative new vehicles are being tested on stretches of road with the idea of being used as freightliners.

A relatively new innovation, the trucks should – in the long run – provide a more accurate, safe drive, which eases the pressure on truck drivers, allowing freight to be delivered more safely and in a shorter timeframe as drivers are not forced to keep stopping for breaks on account of their tiredness behind the wheel.

How do they work?

The trucks will have a driver behind the wheel at all times, should the vehicle encounter situations which the self-drive technology alone cannot handle and navigate. The person behind the wheel can be texting, reading or writing, so long as they are in position should they be required. This should provide peace of mind for those worrying about the safety of the vehicles, as though powered primarily by this technology, there is still human input as and when it is necessary.

The technology includes front radar, a front-facing stereo camera and adaptive cruise control. When the vehicle reaches the highway, the driver will press the Highway Pilot (HP) button, at which point the technology within the truck will take over. The truck adjusts its top speeds accordingly in order to be compliant with the limits of the roads, using both the camera and OCR software to pick up speed limit signs accurately. The adaptive cruise control is able to keep pace with the vehicle ahead of them, as well as adjusting safely and correctly to stop-and-go traffic situations.

Who came up with the idea?

The Freightliner truck is using this self-driving technology as designed and developed by the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, before being transferred over to Freightliner. The technology is broadly referred to as Highway Pilot, with this vehicle being referred to as the Inspiration Truck.

What can it not do?

These trucks are not equipped with the ability, within their self-drive technology systems, to move out of the way of those coming behind them in the right lane on motorways, or overtake slower vehicles. When it is time to exit the highway, the driver must take over and begin to drive normally again.

The future of motorway driving?

These vehicles could eventually evolve into practically driverless trucks, allowing for total accuracy, safety and practicality for freight companies transporting their goods via the highway. Though only one truck has, at present, been tested, this is a huge leap for automobile innovation and one that could take off in years to come in the US and around the globe.

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