Daimler’s autonomous Inspiration gets trucking

The first journey in a vehicle dubbed the Freightliner Inspiration Truck took place on US highway 15 in Las Vegas and was made by Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada, and Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler board member responsible for trucks and buses.

The truck was 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.

The Highway Pilot technology used a front-facing radar, a stereo camera plus tried-and-tested assistance systems such as the Adaptive Cruise Control+, as seen in the Mercedes-Benz Actros. As part of the truck’s so-called Marathon Run, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck covered more than 10,000 miles on a test circuit in Germany.

Measurements of the onboard computer’s ‘brain’ activity revealed that driver drowsiness decreased by about 25% when the truck is being operated in autonomous mode while the driver pursued other meaningful operations.

In July of 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 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.

Trucks are by far the most important means of transport in the US and in 2012, they transported around 70% of all freight, a total of 9.4Bn tons. Globally, the road freight transport is expected to even triple between now and 2050. Autonomous trucks could provide the opportunity to cope with this growth while balancing economic and environmental needs

Governor Sandoval said: “Nevada is proud to be making transportation history by hosting the first US public highway drive for a licensed autonomous commercial truck. The application of this innovative technology to one of America’s most important industries will have a lasting impact on our state and help shape the New Nevada economy.”

Bernhard said: “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.” 

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